Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat GTE

Along with the new Pas­sat, VW will also ex­per­i­ment with a limited num­ber of Hy­brid GTEs in In­dia. We get be­hind the wheel

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TTHIS IS THE PAS­SAT GTE. It is a plug-in hy­brid and is based on the new Pas­sat that will be launched in In­dia soon. It will be con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive than the reg­u­lar diesel Pas­sat – up­wards of `40 lakh – and so, the plan is to bring a batch of ten cars to In­dia to see what the re­sponse will be. We man­aged to hop the queue and get be­hind the wheel a cou­ple of months be­fore it gets here. Is it elec­tri­fy­ing? Well, read on. Where does it come from?

The Pas­sat GTE is, ob­vi­ously, based on the new Pas­sat. Un­der­pin­ning it is Volk­swa­gen’s new MQB plat­form. The new car is 2mm shorter than the car it re­places but the wheel­base is 79mm longer and VW claims an 85kg re­duc­tion in weight.

Also, un­like the old Pas­sat whose tra­di­tional ri­vals were the Ac­cord, Camry and the Su­perb, this new Pas­sat is aim­ing higher. VW is also look­ing at pitch­ing it against the C-Class, 3 Se­ries and A4 and that means this new Pas­sat will prob­a­bly be more ex­pen­sive and it will need to have in­te­ri­ors that are a step above the Pas­sat’s al­ready high stan­dards. When it comes to In­dia early next year, we ex­pect it to come with VW’s 190bhp, 2-litre diesel. For now though, let’s take a look at the GTE.

What’s a plug-in hy­brid?

The GTE uses two forms of propul­sion – a con­ven­tional petrol en­gine and an elec­tric mo­tor. The car can run in purely elec­tric mode,

petrol mode or a com­bi­na­tion of petrol and elec­tric. Now, VW claim the Pas­sat GTE will go 50km in pure elec­tric mode be­fore the bat­ter­ies run out. How­ever, real world con­di­tions and hu­man im­pa­tience can see that fig­ure drop down quite a bit. Oh, it will also get to a top-speed of 130kmph on just the bat­ter­ies af­ter which the petrol en­gine will kick in and con­trib­ute to the GTE’s top­speed of 225kmph.

The bat­ter­ies that run the elec­tric mo­tor can be charged ei­ther by plug­ging it into a wall socket or by al­low­ing the petrol en­gine to charge it. VW claims that through a reg­u­lar 230 volt out­let, the bat­tery will charge fully in about four and a half hours. You could op­tion­ally spend more money, up­grade to a 360 volt socket and have the car charge in two and a half hours.

When fully charged, the elec­tric mo­tor makes 114bhp and 330Nm of torque. The 1.4-litre TSI petrol it is at­tached to makes 154bhp and 250Nm and com­bined, the petrol and elec­tric make 215bhp and 400Nm of torque. All this goes through a six-speed DSG gear­box to the front wheels.

VW claim the Pas­sat GTE will go 50km in pure elec­tric mode be­fore the bat­ter­ies run out

Do I need a PhD to drive it? Ab­so­lutely not. It drives like any reg­u­lar car. You get in, push the start but­ton and if the bat­tery has suf­fi­cient charge, the dash­board will light up like a christ­mas tree. The petrol en­gine stays off. You glide away noise­lessly on the throt­tle and the elec­tric mo­tor’s 330Nm gives the car amaz­ing pep.

It mo­tors with­out any me­chan­i­cal noises much like a Prius ex­cept that this one has the Pas­sat’s tank-like build qual­ity to re­in­force that feel­ing of glid­ing noise­lessly.

The car has four driv­ing modes – an E mode, a hy­brid mode, a bat­tery charge mode and a GTE mode. In the GTE mode, both petrol and elec­tric send all their worth to get the GTE to 100kmph in a claimed 7.5 sec­onds. It even makes sporty noises in GTE mode and the spring in its step does tempt you to hoon about in this mode. The DSG gear­box also has a ‘B’ mode (reg­u­lar Pas­sats have an ‘S’ mode for sporty gearshifts). What the ‘B’ mode does is pro­vide re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing ev­ery­time you get off the throt­tle. There’s so much brak­ing in this mode that you soon learn to trust the sys­tem to bring the car to a halt at traf­fic lights thereby charg­ing the bat­tery as you do so.

It han­dles and rides much like a reg­u­lar Pas­sat ex­cept that this one car­ries around more weight. The bat­ter­ies, the charg­ing equip­ment, the elec­tric mo­tor and the ca­bles for the hy­brid sys­tem add about 280kg to the reg­u­lar Pas­sat. To counter this, VW have stiff­ened the springs with not much detri­ment to the ride. Where you will re­ally no­tice the dif­fer­ence is when you press the brake. The first few mil­lime­tres

The wiring and bat­ter­ies for the hy­brid sys­tem adds about 280kg to the reg­u­lar Pas­sat

un­clut­tered are all words I can use to de­scribe the Pas­sat’s dash. A beau­ti­ful touch­screen me­dia in­ter­face, bril­liant all-dig­i­tal di­als (the GTE gets a charge me­tre that also dou­bles up as a rev counter) all bring the Pas­sat’s dash up-to-date. The seats are re­ally com­fort­able and our car even had a rather silly mas­sage func­tion. Silly be­cause it feels like all it is do­ing is lightly punch­ing you in the lower back.

The space is in­cred­i­ble as al­ways but you should know that this Pas­sat loses a bit of boot space. Be­cause the bat­ter­ies sit un­der the rear seats, the fuel tank (which sits there in the reg­u­lar Pas­sat) moves un­der the boot floor. This also means there is no spare tyre but you do get a self-seal­ing sys­tem in all the tyres.

What else?

You dis­tin­guish the GTE from a reg­u­lar Pas­sat by the C-shaped day­time run­ning lights in the front bumper, the blue line that runs across the top of the head­lights and grille, and of course the GTE badges. It is a very hand­some car and is el­e­gantly un­der­stated but does tend to blend into the crowd in the more sober col­ors that VW is of­fer­ing. We are hop­ing they will of­fer this awe­some blue in In­dia.

Should I buy one?

It is a great car and is all the bet­ter be­cause it feels so nor­mal to drive. You will also get to flaunt your green cre­den­tials. It feels prop­erly lux­u­ri­ous, drives and rides re­ally well and the in­te­ri­ors are so high qual­ity, they match up to the price. If you don’t mind spend­ing the money, go for it.

High qual­ity and su­perb fit-and-fin­ish de­scribe the new Pas­sat’s in­te­ri­ors

1: GTE badge tells you this isn’t a reg­u­lar Pas­sat.

2: Dis­tin­guish it from the nor­mal Pas­sat by the C-shaped day­time run­ning lamps on the bumper

of pedal travel cov­ers re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing and this kind of in­ter­feres with brake feel.

What about the in­sides? Bril­liant as al­ways. High qual­ity, well built, su­perb fit-and-fin­ish,

1: The Pas­sat’s cabin is ar­guably bet­ter than more ex­pen­sive cars.

2: Press that GTE but­ton for max­i­mum fun.

3: Full charge from a 230volt out­let in about four and a half hours

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