By the end of 2014, you’ll be able to buy a Volkswagen Golf with four entirely different powertrains.
Petrol and diesel are the obvious options, but the electric e-Golf also looks promising. Rounding out the quartet is the Golf GTE – a plug-in hybrid that mixes business with pleasure.
Business: The plug. By squeezing a small battery under the boot floor, the GTE gets 31 miles of all-electric range. As we’ve found in previous plug-in hybrids, that’s enough for many commutes or trips to the shops, meaning most trips can be undertaken without using a drop of petrol.
You’ll have to plug it in fairly regularly to keep that 30-odd miles topped up, of course. But the beauty of plug-in hybrids is that even once the battery runs out, you’ve got a petrol engine to keep you going.
In this case, the 1.4-litre TSI petrol unit is sufficient for over 500 miles of extra range – so this is a car you can truly use every day of the year. Combined economy – to be taken with a pinch of salt – is 188 mpg.Its 35 g/km CO2 rating means you can stick two fingers up at Transport for London and its congestion charge, and the DVLA for its VED bills.
Pleasure: Electric power isn’t just about economy and emissions. By working together with that 1.4 TSI, you get a 204-horsepower combined output. That puts it squarely between the Golf GTD and Golf GTI in Volkswagen’s sporting hatchback range – which also explains the GTE badge.
Where the e-Golf touts understated exterior styling and a plain interior, the GTE adopts cues from its sporting brothers. The GTI’s red grille trim is replaced by a blue line, while alloy wheels and twin exhausts add to the GT flavour.
Inside you’ll find blue tartan sports seats (VW’s press photos show the optional leather, unfortunately), a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and metal-finished pedals. A tiny tachometer sits inside a larger energy-use gauge in the instrument cluster.
And you know what? It definitely deserves the GT badging. Performance is brisk in electric-only mode and strong in petrol-assisted GTE mode, with a 0-60 sprint of 7.6 seconds. Sounds sporty, too – VW pumps extra sound into the cabin, which somehow seems less out-of-place in a hybrid than it does in other cars.
We didn’t get to push the car hard around any corners on our airfield test, but there’s little reason to believe it’s any less accomplished than the GTI and GTD.
Priced from: 28,000 (estimated)
Range and MPG: 31 miles (electric-only), 188 mpg
CO2: 35 g/km
The Golf GTE is a real Jekyll and Hyde car, but all the more appealing for it. We’d need to test the car in full on UK roads to corroborate our first impressions, but the car’s strong performance and outstanding economy figures (even if you don’t hit 188 mpg) give it a duality that few other vehicles can match. And styling it like a GTI is sure to be a masterstroke – it’s a plug-in car you’d be proud to put on your drive.
Head over to our full Volkswagen Golf review page for more expert views, user reviews, photos, videos and specifications.