Volkswagen Golf GTE – Hybrid Efficiency

Short road tests don’t deliver the chance to thoroughly evaluate cars but are usually a worthwhile exercise to form an opinion. Thanks then to Volkswagen for a grand day out recently which gave DriveWrite the opportunity to try some new and refreshed vehicles from the VW range. First up, it’s the Golf GTE.

In the past I have been a bit sniffy about hybrids so no doubt VW will be delighted to learn that the GTE has, like an alluring woman, turned my head. In typical Golf fashion it is well made, comfortable and a decent driver; that’s a given. Thankfully it doesn’t scream its hybrid credentials, being nicely understated. It’s a plug-in and the socket is discreetly placed behind the bonnet emblem. Charging from your ‘home charging station’ (that’s a wall box in the garage btw) will take two hours fifteen minutes from flat to full. It takes another hour and a half from a socket, but that’s no great penalty as there are plenty of spare hours in the day (or night). You can also store the locations of public charging stations for use when out and about.Power is derived from a combination of a 1.4L 148bhp (150PS) TSI petrol engine and a 100bhp (102PS) electric motor, integrated into the gearbox housing. With a chunky torque figure 258lb/ft (350Nm) the GTE has punchy performance when the pedal hits the carpet. VW claim 166mpg for the car but you’re not going to see that in real life. Sadly, on this occasion there was no time to check this out with some long distance motoring but I reckon that driven diligently owners should get at least around the same mpg as the frugal Golf GTD.

Drivers can selected from a variety of five modes in total. I drove a good few miles on battery power alone and found that the Volkswagen Golf GTE’s performance remained good without any sign of getting winded on hills and the like. Hybrid mode does as you would expect and GTE fully combines both power sources for optimal performance. Battery charging is efficiently handled through regenerative braking which happens automatically but can be forced through a ‘B’ setting on the DSG gearbox selector lever. There are also two battery modes.

The traffic light sprint from 0 to 62 takes a swift 7.6 seconds and top speed (they say) is 138mph. VW reckon the GTE can travel for a full 31 miles on electric power alone. This will be great for city and urban users who can adopt a holier-than-thou expression at those dinosaurs still emitting toxic fumes. The GT tag is a little misleading. Certainly, it shares some design details with its swifter siblings and has a sporty look but it is no GTI. The GTE’s performance suffers from the car’s considerable weight thanks to the battery pack, although the power-train is responsive nonetheless.The tiny emission figure of 39g/km means the GTE will be completely free from VED for sometime time to come or until such time as the government – whoever, at time of writing, that might be – thinks of a new way to circumvent their own rules. It is also exempt from the Boris tax, or London Congestion Charge as they insist on calling it. This is good news for Londoners for whom this would pretty much be the perfect choice of motor, given the limitations of purely electric cars. In fact the only downside is the price: £33,035 (£28,035 including the present government grant). You do however get a lot of kit for the money. The interior is up to the usual Golf high standard and the touch screen controls for the hybrid settings are simplicity itself. There’s even dashboard displays for energy flow and charging state. As ever, the usual connectivity is on-board.

The Volkswagen Golf GTE is good to drive and, importantly, a hybrid that convinces. Drive it abstemiously and you will get low running costs but if you want added thrills then consider the Golf GTD which delivers economy with performance. In these days of euro-nagging and high motoring costs the GTE should be high on your list.Geoff Maxted