Volkswagen Golf GTE Debuts At Geneva Auto Show

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.

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