The Volkswagen GTD diesel taught us that not all sporty hatchbacks need to have gasoline power, and now Volkswagen will use the 2014 Geneva auto show to demonstrate another alternative-fuel take on its famous GTI. Called the Volkswagen Golf GTE, the new car is a plug-in hybrid that marries the eco-friendliness of electric propulsion with the excitement of the GTI.
On the outside, the Volkswagen Golf GTE looks just like the standard, gasoline-powered seventh-generation GTI. The taut lines of the new Golf/GTI are accentuated by bracket-shaped LED running lights, black strakes on the front fascia, full-LED headlights, low side skirts, and a roof spoiler. Though aerodynamically sound 16-inch alloy wheels are standard, 17- and 18-inch rolling stock is also available. The car rides on a sports suspension similar to that of a standard GTI.
It's underneath that the Volkswagen Golf GTE stands apart from a GTI, as a 148-hp, 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four is married with a 101-hp electric motor. Combined, the two power sources produce 201 hp and 258 lb-ft and can rocket the car to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds, with a top speed of 135 mph. On its own, the electric motor can provide 31 miles of all-electric driving at speeds up to 81 mph.
The 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack weighs 265 pounds and can be fully charged from a European household socket in three and a half hours, or from a fast charger in two and a half. The electric motor is integrated into the six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. The idea is that an owner could primarily run short errands on electric power, then engage the gasoline engine for enthusiastic driving. A switch inside the cabin allows the driver to pick between the all-electric "e-mode" and the sporty "GTE mode."
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is not simply a fanciful concept, and will go on sale in Europe this fall. Volkswagen tells us there are currently no plans to bring the car to the U.S., but a representative hints we could see this plug-in powertrain in an American model in the future.