Fast Golf zaps the opposition with 166mpg
NOW here’s a car that I had been looking forward to trying out… and it did not disappoint. The ground-breaking Golf GTE is the latest in a long line of sector benchmark models from VW – which has chalked up global sales of over 30 million so they must be getting something right.
In its seventh generation and having celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, the Golf continues to set benchmarks in comfort, practicality, safety and efficiency.
The GTE plug-in hybrid made its debut in the UK earlier this year and combines the benefits of electric power with the dynamics of a Golf GTi.
So the GTE has two engines, a 1.4-litre 150bhp TSI direct-injection petrol engine and a 100bhp electric motor.
Together, they produce over 200bhp and give a theoretical range of around 580 miles. Using the electric motor alone, the GTE is capable of speeds of up to 81 mph. With the TSI engine as well, it can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds and on to 138 mph.
And as if that were not impressive enough, the GTE has mpg figures others can only dream of… this is definitely the first Golf to be able to cover a claimed 166 miles on one gallon of petrol.
With electric only mode selected, the car can travel up to 31 miles in near silence and with none of the ‘milk float’ sluggishness associated with electric cars of the past. 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 fast charge wall box.
The GTE uses a six-speed DSG gearbox with a triple-clutch system specially developed for hybrid vehicles (it only comes in auto and five doors). The electric motor is integrated into the gearbox housing, while further hybrid components include power electronics and a charger. An electromechanical brake servo and an electric air conditioning compressor make for energy-efficient braking and air conditioning.
That electromechanical system means you have to drive the GTE slightly differently from a normal petrol car as – when you take your foot off the power and the car starts to recover energy as you slow down – it feels a little like the car itself has slightly applied the brakes so you decelerate faster than expected… but you soon get used to this slightly strange experience.
Visually, the Golf GTE combines elements of the e-Golf and the GTi. The front bumper features C-shaped LED daytime running lights, like those on the e-Golf, as well as aerodynamic horizontal ‘fins’, like those on the GTi. Where the GTi features red, the GTE has blue accents, including across the radiator grille and into the headlights.
Inside there are snug, retro-style check-pattern seats (very 1980s Golf GTi) and a long list of standard kit including DAB radio and sat nav on the big central touch screen (although it has to be said the latter, like all the recent Volkswagens I have tried, seems somewhat postcode unfriendly).
Then there is a multimode driving system from electric only to max power in GTE setting, ABS and brake assist, auto air conditioning, wipers and lights, all round parking sensors and those smart, retro sports seats.
As you would expect for a quality motor like a VW, it’s not cheap at £33,154 on the road – but because it is a hybrid vehicle and qualifies for the government’s £5,000 electric vehicle grant the price comes down to a much more reasonable £27,628 courtesy of that nice Mr Osbourne.
So it is good-looking, well put together and incredible on fuel – but the most important thing a sporty Golf has to have is performance. Well to put the figures already quoted into perspective I used the GTE to go to my monthly car meeting at Mitton Hall Hotel in the Ribble Valley as I thought it would create some interest, despite being parked amidst Ferraris, Lambos, Maseratis, Astons and Porsches.
On the way I picked up a couple of pals and was following another friend in his mental Porsche GT3 RS and, saying we were three-up and the porker has a lot more horsepower, the Golf gave a good account of itself keeping up during some spirited driving around the twisty bits on our way to what is a showcase for exotic motors.
More on the GTE at volkswagen.co.uk and about the monthly Mitton car club (summer only) see mittonhallhotel. co.uk/events.