The petrol-elec­tric hy­brid Golf has the pace of a hot hatch and the fuel-sav­ing grace of an econo-hatch.


TTHE fact that Volk­swa­gen’s hy­brid Golf wears a “GTE” badge sug­gests it is a mem­ber of the per­for­mance-ori­ented fam­ily to­gether with the GTI and GTD. The Golf GTE’s hy­brid pow­er­train com­prises a petrol turbo en­gine and an elec­tric mo­tor, and my drive im­pres­sions sug­gest that the badge is well-de­served. The cur­rent Mk 7 Golfs were re­cently given an up­date, or rather, a cos­metic OC­TO­BER 2017 makeover. There are new LED lights front and rear, plus restyled bumpers, while the cabin has re­ceived the lat­est ver­sion of VW’s in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem for those who ex­pect the lat­est tech­nol­ogy for their in-dash “tablet”. The VW de­sign­ers have given the GTE a sporty front grille with finned in­takes that you nor­mally find on the GTI, plus a be­spoke blue trim line that runs along the lower edge of the grille and con­tin­ues into the head­lights. The cen­tral VW logo re­mains, only this one flips open to re­veal the elec­tric socket of the ex­ter­nal charg­ing plug. Yes, this is a plug-in hy­brid. Thus far, the Golf GTE has never been sold in Sin­ga­pore, but Volk­swa­gen has promised that the new­est, re­vised ver­sion will be in­cluded in our lo­cal price list.

Ba­si­cally, the lat­est Golf GTE is a tur­bocharged 1.4 TSI hatch­back with an elec­tric mo­tor in se­ries to boost per­for­mance and, more im­por­tantly, fuel econ­omy. Al­though there’s a new VW 1.5-litre TSI en­gine, the GTE con­tin­ues with the pre­vi­ous 1.4-litre unit which is used in a large num­ber of VW mod­els, rang­ing from Polo to Passat.

In the GTE, the 1.4-litre TSI en­gine is rated at 150bhp. The elec­tric sys­tem com­prises an

8.7kWh bat­tery pack un­der the rear seat and a 102bhp elec­tric mo­tor un­der the bon­net, work­ing in tan­dem with the 4-cylin­der petrol en­gine. The elec­tric mo­tor is sited in-be­tween the fly­wheel and the 6-speed DSG gear­box. The car’s com­bined sys­tem power is not 252bhp as you would have math­e­mat­i­cally con­cluded, be­cause the two mo­tors pro­duce max­i­mum power at dif­fer­ent rpms. Hence in the GTE, the max­i­mum sys­tem power is 204bhp.

When the bat­tery is fully charged, the Golf will al­ways move off only with pure elec­tric power. My test car is given to me with nearly 90% charge, so I drive off with the elec­tric mo­tor that re­sponds in­stantly to the throt­tle. The petrol en­gine only cuts in when I’m out of the city and into three-fig­ure speeds. To­gether, the two mo­tors of­fer 350Nm of torque. It is def­i­nitely the quick­est 1.4-litre Golf I have ever driven, even if it is not quite up to the level of the GTI. Volk­swa­gen claims the GTE will ac­cel­er­ate to 100km/h from rest in 7.6 sec­onds, but in prac­tice, the car’s mid-range urge makes it feel a lot quicker than that.

The GTE, how­ever, has lost a bit of the Golf’s agility. Main rea­son for this is the ad­di­tional weight of the elec­tric mo­tor (be­hind the en­gine) and the bat­tery. The lat­ter is lo­cated within the wheel­base, but the to­tal weight is 1615kg – 200kg heav­ier than the GTI.

In fair­ness, though, the GTE’s re­fine­ment and ride com­fort are still very much up to the stan­dards that all mod­ern Golfs have be­come fa­mous for.

The GTE’s best qual­ity, of course, is the fuel econ­omy it prom­ises. With the elec­tric mo­tor do­ing most of the work in ur­ban driv­ing for up to 50 kilo­me­tres, the over­all fuel con­sump­tion is ex­pected to be a frankly unbelievable 55.6 to 62.5km per litre. That is what the spec­i­fi­ca­tion claims based on the NEDC cy­cle.

I reckon, in real-world Sin­ga­pore driv­ing, the fig­ure is likely to hover around 25 to 40km per litre, which is still one of the best rea­sons to own a Golf GTE.

At the time of this story go­ing to print, Volk­swa­gen Sin­ga­pore has not given a tar­get price for the Golf GTE, but I would guess that it would be some­where be­tween the top-spec 1.4 TSI and the 2-litre GTI.

Golf GTE’s five-mode, petrol­elec­tric plugin hy­brid pow­er­train pro­vides en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient per­for­mance, plus midrange punch.

OC­TO­BER 2017

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