Volkswagen is hoping some of the nostalgia and goodwill surrounding the Golf GTI will rub off on the second iteration of the compact family’s plug-in hybrid derivative. The new Golf GTE has been repositioned to place it alongside the GTI, the original so-called "hot hatch," in terms of price and performance.
VW seeks to boost Golf plug-in hybrid with GTI’s help
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The GTE start as about 41,700 euros in Germany, but with incentives in markets such as Germany and France, which reduce the prices of electrified cars by thousands of euros, the plug-in hybrid either matches or undercuts the GTI's German base price of about 37,600 euros.
The GTE offers 242 hp from the combined power of its gasoline engine and electric powertrain, which is similar to the output of the GTI.
The GTE accelerates from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 6.7 seconds, just half a second slower than the GTI. The GTE's current competition in the compact class is limited to the Hyundai Ioniq and Mercedes-Benz A 250 e plug-in hybrids.
Battery: There are 96 cells that deliver 13 kilowatt hours of power. The battery weighs 135 kg.
Engine: The GTE comes equipped with a 150-hp, 1.4-liter gasoline powerplant that is paired with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Hybrid: When the engine is engaged, the electric motor adds 95 hp. In e-mode it provides 109 hp.
Convenience: The battery can be fully recharged in 3 hours and 40 minutes via a port located on the driver’s side of the vehicle over the front wheel arch.
VW also plans to launch an entry-level Golf plug-in hybrid that will wear the new eHybrid badge and offer less power than the GTE, with the aim of making those three letters as synonymous with performance as the GTI.
To further distinguish the GTE plug-in hybrid from its low-CO2 sibling, VW will use design cues that harken back to the hot hatch. Those include the familiar honeycomb pattern for the air inlet on the lower part of the grille and tartan-pattern sports seats.
The prominent GTE emblems on the front, rear, and steering wheel also use the same type of lettering as the GTI. To differentiate the two optically, VW has given the GTE badge a blue color scheme while the GTI emblem will retain its well-known red trim.
Launch date: Late September
Base price: 41,667 euros (Germany)
Where build: Wolfsburg, Germany
Lowest CO2 emissions: 36g/km (WLTP)
The reason for all the similarities is because the Golf GTI has built a loyal base of fans, who have bought 2.3 million units of the variant since VW debut it in 1976. It even enjoys a strong following in the U.S., where most European-style hatchbacks are shunned.
The new GTE can drive up to 52 km in full-electric mode under the WLTP cycle and reach at speeds as high as 130 kph under battery power. This is partly because of a 50 percent increase in the capacity of the battery.
VW argues that the battery upgrade will allow customers who consistently charge the GTE to complete their daily commute without engaging the combustion engine.
"If you need to drive in a zero-emissions urban area, manual settings allow you to reserve a portion of the battery’s power capacity, 20 percent for example," VW product manager Thomas Behrendt said.