In the past I have been a bit sniffy about hybrids so no doubt Volkswagen will be delighted to learn that the Golf GTE has, like an alluring woman, turned my head. In typical Golf fashion it is well made, comfortable and a decent driver; that’s a given. Thankfully it doesn’t scream its hybrid credentials, being nicely understated. It’s a plug-in and the socket is discreetly placed behind the bonnet emblem. Charging from your ‘home charging station’ (that’s a wall box in the garage) will take two hours fifteen minutes from flat to full.
Power is derived from a combination of a 1.4L 148bhp TSI petrol engine and a 100bhp electric motor, integrated into the gearbox housing. With a chunky torque figure 258lb/ft the GTE has punchy performance. VW claim 166mpg for the car but, as ever, you’re not going to see that in real life but the car should be frugal.
Drivers can selected from a variety of five modes in total. I drove a good few miles on battery power alone and found that the GTE’s performance remained good without any sign of getting winded on hills and the like. Hybrid mode does as you would expect and GTE fully combines both power sources for optimal performance. Battery charging is efficiently handled through regenerative braking which happens automatically but can be forced through a ‘B’ setting on the DSG gearbox selector lever.
0 to 62 takes a swift 7.6 seconds and top speed is 138mph. VW reckon the GTE can travel for a full 31 miles on electric power alone. This will be great for city and urban users who can adopt a holier-than-thou expression at those dinosaurs still emitting toxic fumes. The GT tag is a little misleading. Certainly, it shares some design details with its swifter siblings and has a sporty look but it is no GTI. The GTE’s performance inevitably suffers from the car’s considerable weight thanks to the battery pack.
The tiny emission figure of 39g/km means the GTE will be completely free from VED for sometime time to come. It is also exempt from the London Congestion Charge as they insist on calling it. In fact the only downside is the price: £33,035 (£28,035 including the present government grant). You do however get a lot of kit for the money. The interior is up to the usual Golf high standard and the touch screen controls for the hybrid settings are simplicity itself. There’s even dashboard displays for energy flow and charging state.
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is good to drive and, importantly, a hybrid that convinces. Drive it abstemiously and you will get low running costs. In these days of high motoring costs the GTE should be high on your list.