Volkswagen Golf GTE
Year: 2015Price new: £28,775 (inc Govt plug-in grant)Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl/electric motor, 201bhp
Most 1,400cc contenders are cost effective entry-level models – except for the cutting-edge flagship that is the VW Golf GTE. Beneath its conventional hatchback bodywork beats a hi-tech plug-in hybrid heart that aims to effortlessly combine performance and penny-pinching running costs.
By mixing a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and a powerful electric motor, VW has created a car that delivers 201bhp, yet promises 166mpg. Plug the Golf into the mains and you can travel around 30 miles in zero emissions electric mode.
Externally, the GTE is distinguished by its distinctive blue trim inserts, while inside the car is heavily influenced by the racy GTI hot hatch – there’s the same flat-bottomed steering wheel and a similar tartan finish for the seats. It’s also every bit as solid and has the same family friendly practicality.
Squeeze the throttle and the Golf glides away silently on battery power alone. Hit the GTE button and the petrol engine joins in, helping it cover 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds. The weight of the hybrid system means the GTE isn’t as sharp to drive as its hot hatch brother, but it’s composed, grippy and very refined. And what it loses in outright thrills, it makes up for with small bills.
Click the links below for the other 1,400cc cars that have made our list.
In this review
- 1IntroductionAuto Express celebrates 1,400 issues by driving our favourite 1,400cc cars from the last 25 years
- 2Reliant Scimitar SSTReliant may have been most famous for its three-wheelers, but it has also dabbled in sports cars.
- 3Caterham Seven K SeriesClassic looks and modern tech are an enticing mix in a sports car, and the Caterham Seven Classic has them both.
- 4Volkswagen Polo BlueMotionEco-focused superminis are common now, but even in the late noughties that wasn’t the case
- 5Mercedes A140It’s easy to forget how influential the original A-Class was. Mercedes’ first people carrier was tall, but had a short wheelbase.
- 6Audi A2
- 7Volkswagen Golf GTE - currently reading
- 8Vauxhall Nova 1.4SR Boxy styling and blistered wheelarches inspired a generation of car fans in the eighties, and the Vauxhall Nova SR was the aspirational warm hatch for young drivers who wanted thrills without the bills.
- 9Fiat Panda 100HPThe Fiat Group has used 1.4 power several times in its history
- 10Abarth 595C
- 11Rover 214When planning this road test we knew there was one car that had to be here: the Rover 214.