The new Volkswagen Golf GTE
There’s an electric motor to potter silently around town with zero emissions and a normal combustion engine for trips when you can’t get to a charging station.
The Volkswagen Golf GTE claims to be able to add an element of enjoyment to that mix too, with brisk performance and styling that is closely linked to the likes of sportier models such as the GTI. This styling is one of the things that has been most changed by the GTE’s mid-life update, while Volkswagen has also added in new technology with the promise of more to come.
As with other more performance orientated models in the Golf range, the GTE now comes with a bespoke front bumper. It gets blue details on the lower part of the grille, while the C-shaped daytime running lights are now integrated into the bumper and feature sharp fins to create the visual link to the GTI.
The headlights are also upgraded for this refresh, with LED lights now standard front and rear and a dynamic, sweeping, indicator light at the back.
The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine is combined with a 75kw electric motor that together produce 204bhp – enough for a 0 to 60mph time of 7.6 seconds. The 138mph top speed is also respectably sporty.
Officially at least, emissions are 38g/km and the average fuel economy is 166mpg but much will depend on where and how you drive it.
Talking of which, there are fewer changes to the way the GTE drives, which is no bad thing. The car’s eco leanings are apparent from the first moment you press the start button.
The Volkswagen Golf GTE claims to be able to add an element of enjoyment to the mix
Regardless of which of the three modes you were in when you last turned the car off – Electric, Hybrid or GTE – it always starts off in electric if there is enough charge in the battery to do so.
The electric motor and instant acceleration mean overtaking at any speed is simple
If the battery does drop to empty, the switch between electric and engine is barely perceptible. The only time engine noise is apparent is when you select GTE mode. This boosts throttle responsiveness to add a touch more pace and sharpen the steering.
It also relies more on the engine, resulting in slightly more noise under acceleration.
It’s not the sonorous note of a hot hatch but is more befitting of a car that VW says is intended to be more geared towards performance than pure efficiency.
The extra weight of the batteries has a few effects overall, though. The GTE is less agile than the GTI, which is 18 stone lighter, and this is apparent in its handling. It is more suited to gentle cruising than being thrown around on back roads.
But the electric motor and instant acceleration mean overtaking at any speed is simple.
That battery weight is likely to impact on fuel economy once the electricity is depleted, so while the Golf GTE is capable of longer trips it is better suited to lots of shorter trips with regular access to a charging socket.
The battery is chargeable to its full 31-mile-range capacity in just under three and a half hours from a household socket.
styling is one of the things that has been most changed by the GTE’s mid-life update
A new piece of technology will arrive in the Golf GTE this summer to help make the most of the electric range. Using data from the car’s navigation system it will decide when to use the battery or engine, saving the electricity for towns and not wasting energy on steep hills. It will join an increased level of tech for the first time on the plug-in Golf.
The other change to the GTE’s technical equipment offering is a redesigned infotainment system, which comes with an 8-inch screen as standard and 9.2-inch screen that has gesture controls on the all-new Discover Pro version.
The front half of the GTE’s cabin is similar to the rest of the Golf range. A blue tartan upholstery design is the most notable change. But the rear suffers slightly from having to carry around those batteries. The space under the boot floor is given over to them, so the boot is 100 litres smaller. And the seats-up capacity of 272 litres is smaller than its plug-in hybrid Audi, Kia and Toyota rivals.
It always starts off in electric if there is enough charge in the battery to do so
Buying a car that effectively comes with two engines adds to the purchase price, which was the biggest criticism of the Golf GTE. This update looks to address that, dropping the price by £3,420. The starting price still isn’t cheap, at £30,635, but it is lower than all major rivals and helps make the GTE a more compelling option. This reduced price and the benefits of running on electric power for miles go a long way to offsetting the lack in practicality.
The GTE won’t be for all but it is a fantastic option for those who need a bit of everything.
- Price: £30,635-£32,135
- Engine: Turbo-petrol/electric hybrid – 1.4-litre plus 75kw electric motor
- Power: 0 to 60mph in 7.6 seconds, 138mph top speed
- Fuel economy: 166mpg
- CO2 emissions: 38g/km
- Rivals: Audi A3 e-tron, Toyota Prius Plug-in, Kia Optima PHEV
- Rating: 9/10