Few cars have a history like that of the Volkswagen Golf, yet with global sales of over 30 million, in its seventh generation and having celebrated its 40th anniversary in March 2014, the Golf continues to offer buyers a car which sets benchmarks in comfort, practicality, safety and efficiency. It also established another ‘first’ in 2014, becoming the first car to be available with five power sources: petrol, diesel or CNG engines (not UK), a pure electric engine (e-Golf) and plug-in hybrid (Golf GTE).
Such flexibility is possible thanks to the MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) platform or Modular Transverse Matrix on which the Golf is built. This standardises many vehicle component parameters across brands and vehicle classes, and allows access to new powertrains and technologies. As such the Golf GTE and e-Golf models are produced on the same factory line as the standard Golf. These electric and hybrid cars offer the same virtues of practicality, refinement and advanced technology as its multi-award winning and former European and World Car of the Year cousin, but with drastically reduced tailpipe emissions.
The Golf GTE plug-in hybrid made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2014, and combines the benefits of electric mobility with the dynamics of a Golf GTI. Its name reflects its position in the line-up alongside the iconic petrol-powered GTI and the diesel GTD. Where ‘GT’ stands for ‘Gran Tourismo’, ‘I’ stands for ‘Injection’, ‘D’ for Diesel and ‘E’ for Electricity.
The Golf GTE is driven by two engines: a 1.4-litre 150 PS TSI direct-injection petrol engine and a 102 PS electric motor. Together, they combine to produce power of 204 PS and a theoretical range of around 580 miles. Using the electric motor alone, the GTE is capable of speeds of 81 mph. With the TSI engine as well, the Golf GTE can sprint from zero to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds and on to 138 mph. Torque is a remarkable 350 Nm (258 lbs ft). Alongside this impressive performance, the Golf GTE offers impressive fuel efficiency, with a combined cycle figure of 166 mpg and CO2 emissions of 39 g/km.
In pure electric mode (activated at the press of a button), the Golf GTE can travel up to 31 miles, depending on conditions, and the electric power can also be saved – for example when driving to a zero-emissions zone. The 8.7 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged in three hours 45 minutes from a domestic mains outlet, or two hours 15 minutes from a domestic wallbox. The battery weighs 120 kg, giving the GTE a total kerbweight of 1,599 kg.