Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid shown in Geneva

3 Mar, 2014 11:30pm Paul Bond

New Volkswagen Golf GTE offers hot hatch thrills and emissions of just 35g/km of CO2

This is the all-new Volkswagen Golf GTE, a new performance-focused plug-in hybrid that follows the petrol GTI and diesel GTD. A petrol-powered plug-in hybrid, it has been designed to give hot hatch levels of straight-line performance alongside an incredibly low CO2 figure of just 35g/km.

The styling is inspired by the Golf GTI, with the same aggressive air-vents and low front spoiler as the iconic petrol model. However a distinctive set of C-shaped LED running lights have been integrated into the bumper, and the red lines on the grille and headlights have been replaced with subtle blue trim instead.

Volkswagen offers the Golf (at least in Germany) with five different power sources – diesel, petrol, pure electric, compressed gas and now plug-in hybrid. Essentially, the Golf GTE uses the same lithium-ion battery technology as the Audi A3 e-tron, which means an identical 31-mile electric range and fuel economy of 188mpg.

Those powerful batteries are linked to a 101bhp electric motor that is bolted to the gearbox housing, and when combined with the 148bhp 1.4-litre TSI engine, total system output is an impressive 201bhp and a diesel-like 350Nm of torque.

Performance is brisk too, with the GTE taking just 7.6 seconds to reach 62mph from a standstill, but the top speed is capped at 134mph. The motor and engine drive the front wheels through a newly developed triple-clutch DSG gearbox and several heavy-duty electronics systems to carefully manage the flow of power.

All this technology does come at a price though. Weighing in at 1,524kgs, the GTE is 173kgs heavier than a GTI and 300kgs heavier than standard Golf 1.4 TSI. Still, VW claims that in hybrid mode the GTE can cover 583 miles on a single tank.

Zero-emissions driving can be accessed at any time thanks to an ‘e-mode’ button in the cabin, which switches off the engine completely and limits the top speed to 81mph. Several other driving modes will be offered, including a ‘GTE mode’ that delivers the maximum amount of power for a sportier and more exciting drive.

The battery pack takes three and a half hours to charge from a household socket, and is mounted beneath the rear seats – but that means the petrol tank has been moved to the boot, so the boot is around 100 litres smaller than the standard car.

Inside, there are more blue accents on the seats, steering wheel and gear stick. It will come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display as standard, which will include an ‘energy flow monitor’, and the rev counter makes way for a power meter instead.

Volkswagen plans to launch the GTE later this year, with order books opening in August, and prices are likely to put it between the GTI and the Golf R. That should mean a list price of just over £30,000 after the £5,000 government grant is deducted.