Quick Spin: Volkswagen Golf GTE

To be honest, I don’t really know what to make of the hybrid-powered Volkswagen Golf GTE.

Let’s deal with the nuts and bolts. The Golf GTE is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine producing 148bhp and a 101bhp electric motor. Running in parallel, they make 201bhp and 258lb/ft of torque, not too far off the Golf GTi.

Power goes through the front wheels via a six-speed DSG gearbox. 0-62mph takes 7.6 seconds with a top speed of 138mph. In pure electric mode it has a range of 31 miles at speeds up to 81mph; it’s a plug-in and the 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery recharges in about three hours from a domestic plug. VW claims it’ll do 166mpg and emit 39g/km of Co2, making it road tax and congestion charge free, and very light on benefit-in-kind company car tax.

It looks good. Where the GTi has red details, the GTE has a nice shade of electric blue, including in the trademark tartan seats. There’s a lot of kit, lots of space, it’s very well built and all the other things you’d expect of a Golf.

All the hybrid gubbins works brilliantly. Were it not for the technicolour displays you wouldn’t know which power source is doing what. The engine and e-motor cut in and out and work together completely seamlessly. But the powertrain is rather characterless. There’s none of the fizz and zing that makes the you want rev the GTi’s 2.0-litre motor round to the redline.

Likewise, it’s highly competent in the bends, turning in keenly and gripping hard. It just can’t disguise the extra heft of the batteries and motors, rendering the handling a bit lifeless.

Comparing the GTE directly to the GTi misses the point; more relevant is the diesel-powered Golf GTD. It costs about the same, produces similar performance, is better to drive and the real-world fuel consumption against the GTE in hybrid mode probably isn’t that much different. The only major factor clearly in the GTE’s favour is the tax rate. Though at 122g/km, the GTD isn’t outrageous.

I can see the point of the Golf GTE. It’s an amazing showcase of VW’s hybrid technology, it’s entertaining enough to drive and the tax rate will appeal to company car buyers. I wouldn’t question you for buying one, but I’d have the GTD.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Price: £33,755 (£28,755 after government grant)

Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol inc. electric motor

Transmission: 6-speed DSG dual-clutch; front-wheel-drive

Power/Torque: 201bhp; 258lb/ft (combined)

Economy/Emissions: 166mpg; 39g/km (31 mile range in EV mode)

0-62mph: 7.6 seconds

Top speed: 138mph

For more information click here

By Only Motors

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