Fast Golf zaps the op­po­si­tion with 166mpg

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

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.

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