The best Golf model on balance of economy and performance - if only it was cheaper and offered a bigger boot
Following the introduction of various petrol, diesel, natural gas and pure electric versions over the past two years, Volkswagen has added a new plug-in petrol-electric hybrid variant of the seventh-generation Golf to its line-up.The new car, which opens for orders in the UK in November, carries the name GTE – a nomenclature that Volkswagen suggests hints it is more than just a fuel miser but a genuinely sporting model in the mould of the Golf GTi and GTD.The sister car to the Audi A3 e-tron, with which it shares its hi-tech driveline, the Golf GTE is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine and a synchronous electric motor mounted within the forward section of the gearbox. Together, they provide a combined system output of 204bhp and 258lb ft of torque.The combined reserves are channeled to the front wheels via a specially adapted version of Volkswagen’s six-speed dual shift (double clutch) gearbox known as the DQ400. It provides the driver with the choice of five modes: E-mode, GTE mode, battery hold, battery charge and hybrid.Depending on the mode that is chosen, the gearbox is either decoupled from the engine to provide drag free coasting or recuperates kinetic energy on a trailing throttle, thereby ensuring the maximum possible efficiency. The electric motor draws energy from an 8.7kWh lithium-ion battery mounted underneath the rear seat in the place usually taken up by the fuel tank. The petrol tank, reduced in size from a regular 50 litres to 40 litres, is housed within a slightly raised floor of the boot.As a result, luggage capacity drops by 108 litres over more traditional petrol and diesel versions of the Golf to 272 litres. Despite the rearward shift of the fuel tank, Volkswagen claims the Golf GTE can absorb a 50mph rear end impact without any serious deformation or safety concerns. Volkswagen is quick to extol the fuel sipping qualities and low emissions of the Golf GTE, and with pretty good reason. With a combined cycle average on the European cycle of 188mpg and average CO2 emissions of just 35g/km, it promises remarkably economy.Its combination of petrol and electric power also provides it with spritely performance when you explore the kick down potential of the two power sources. Official figures point to a 0-62mph time of 7.6sec and 138mph top speed in GTE mode.In E-mode, the Golf GTE hits 81mph before a limiter caps your speed, making it suitable for both city and motorway running. The claimed electric range is put at 31 miles, although this is dependent upon varying factors including your average speed. The combined range extends to 584miles, or roughly that of a conventional petrol engine Golf.The key to the Golf GTE’s extended electric range is its plug in capability. The new car can be charged on either standard household mains or a fast charge wallbox – the latter of which comes as an option.The recharge time for the battery is put at four hours on a regular 240 volt, 10 amp system and just under two hours on a more robust 240 volt, 16 amp set-up. The socket for the plug is neatly hidden beneath the Volkswagen emblem in the grille. Alternatively, the petrol engine and kinetic energy is used to top up the battery on the run.