Volkswagen Golf GTE Review

GTE??? Yes, GTE no GTI…

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GTI? No GTE, a new example of Volkswagen’s take on future mobility available today. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTE is a plug-in hybrid that combines a traditional petrol engine with an electric motor. It is not the first plug-in hybrid launched by the company from Wolfsburg but for us certainly the most interesting one so far.

As the name tag suggests it also possesses sporty genes besides the ability to drive 100% electric, charged via a regular power plug or refueled with regular petrol. We went out to Switzerland to find out what the GTE is like to drive on a variety of roads – from the city of Zurich to the some beautiful mountain roads.

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Normally we write about the engine of the car but in the Golf GTE’s case you get two engines: one 150hp strong 1.4 liter turbocharged TSI engine and one 102hp eletric motor. Combined the hybrid system can deliver a peak performance of 204hp, just 16hp shy of the GTI’s 220hp. The GTE delivers 350Nm of torque, exactly the same as the GTI with the only difference that in electric mode the full torque is instantly available.

The GTE has a strong emphasis on efficiency and range. With a fully charged battery the range is 50 kilometers in full eletric mode and up to 940 kilometers in hybrid mode. Combined fuel consumption on the European test cycle is only 1.5 liters per 100 km although it will come as no surprise that when you have a sportier driving style this will be much more.

This Golf GTE does from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds and maximal top speed is 222 km/h. In e mode top speed is 130 km/h, this performances is better in most other hybrids cars.

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The Golf GTE comes with a newly developed 6-speed automatic gearbox that incorporates the electric motor, disengagement clutch and Volkswagen’s DSG dual clutch gearbox. This helps to keep the size of the engine very compact and make use of Volkswagen’s MQB platform, a modular matrix that allows several models and drivetrains to be build on the same production line.

In comparison to a regular automatic gearbox the Sport mode is replaced by a B-mode. This B-mode will make use of energy regeneration when the accelerator is lifted. This also allows you to slow down without pressing the brakes and by doing so the battery is recharged to provide more electric power.

The Golf GTE offers various drive modes, unlike most cars in this segment that only offer ‘normal’ and ‘sport’, the GTE offers: E-mode, GTE mode, Battery Hold, Battery Charge and Hybrid Auto.

Every time the car is started E-mode is automatically engaged. The GTE will run up to 50 kilometers with the electric motor only until the petrol engine is started. If you wish to maintain your current charge you can select Battery hold so you have enough electric range available for inner-city driving per example. Battery charge will use all available energy while driving to charge the battery back to 100%. Hybrid auto is a typical hybrid mode where the electric motor and the petrol engine work together to offer an optimal mix of range and efficiency.

Most interesting for fans of the GTI segment is the GTE mode. Here the electric motor is used to improve performance and offer the maximum output of 204hp. The throttle responds improves, gearbox will hold on to gears longer and the steering becomes more direct. With the optional dynamic chassis control the GTE button also sets the dampers to sport warranting a sportier ride.

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