Following the premiere of the brand new, MK8 Golf in October last year, VW's hybrid offensive has stepped up a gear with the official reveal of the plug-in hybrid version – the Volkswagen Golf GTE. It's fair to say that we're fans of the VW Golf at Discover EV. In MK7 guise we really liked the all-electric e-Golf and rated the GTE as the best PHEV available to company car buyers when we put them head-to-head over a year ago.
The MK8 GTE now takes up the mantle and benefits from all-round improvements over its predecessor which, despite still being a real contender in the field, was beginning to feel a little long in the tooth having been around since 2014. Crucially, VW has now endowed the GTE with exactly the same power output as the iconic GTI, but with a slug more torque to overcome the weight gain, as well as that all-important zero-emissions capability.
Let's get down to business first: the new MK8 Golf GTE combines a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, which is good for 147bhp, with an 114bhp electric motor. This means that on its own, the electric motor is two brake horsepower better off than the original Golf GTI!
In the context of the MK8, total system power is 241bhp – exactly the same as the new, petrol-only GTI. Where the GTE comes up trumps is in the torque stakes, boasting 295lb-ft vs the GTI's 273lb-ft. Whilst this isn't a massive difference, given the fact that the GTE will have most of it from zero RPM, it should be as quick as its conventionally-powered counterpart in real-world conditions. Power is fed to the front wheels through a six-speed DSG 'box.
Thanks to a 50 per cent increase in battery capacity, which now stands at 13kWh, the new GTE is good for around 37 miles on electric power. Outstanding aerodynamics has helped VW's engineers maximise this range. In electric mode, the GTE is good for up to 80mph and will automatically default to only running off the battery when first started – if there's enough juice to be getting on with. As you'd expect, the usual array of driving modes and range-maximising technologies are built-in, but unfortunately we don't yet know what the car's vitals are in terms of performance and cleanliness.
Being part of the GT range, the Golf GTE receives an uprated chassis which combines a McPherson front axle with multi-link rear suspension. A new Vehicle Dynamics Manager controls what's going on in both the vertical and horizontal movements of the suspension, keeping occupants more comfortable, more of the time, yet maintaining the car's sportiness. With the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), owners can use pre-set chassis settings with varying levels of aggressiveness, or tailor their settings with an 'individual' mode.
The standard MK8 is by no means a bad looking car. An obvious evolution of the previous generation model, it is rather 'safe', however. With the GTE Volkswagen has done much the same evolutionary update, albeit with a sportier and more dynamic edge. We reckon it's subtle enough to distinguish it and its GT-branded counterparts from the Golf R (and deter boy racers from trying to race), but also has enough of the sporty details to differentiate it from a regular Golf.
Chief among the little styling details is the now-familiar blue GTE badge which sits in the radiator grille and on the rear hatch of the car. A nice little detail comes when an owner walks up to the car with the key, which activates the daytime running lights and also illuminates a blue LED strip in the headlight mirrors which apes the blue GTE badging.
Headlights themselves are of a more aggressive design, and below them there is a one-piece honeycomb grille which encompasses the fog lights, where specified. As standard the GTE sits on 17 inch alloys, but 18s or 19s are optional, as are new sills and a rear diffuser. The charging port is located on the front nearside wing, but unlike the other cars in the GT range, the GTE hides its exhaust pipe to highlight its electric capabilities.
Like the standard car, the GTE gets a new digitally-led driver's area. Called the 'Innovation Cockpit', it blends the top-spec 10.25 inch digital cockpit with the 10 inch central navigation system. On-screen visuals blend between screens ensuring that they work in harmony, rather than independently, for a better user experience. The steering wheel harks back to those found on classic GTIs, but is now multi-function. Another nice touch is the tartan seats with black side bolsters.
Standard equipment is plentiful and includes a mobile-friendly infotainment system with We Connect and We Connect Plus online services and functions integrated. Single-zone automatic climate control (Climatronic), Press & Drive button start system and Bluetooth is also included. On the safety side, there's lane assist, front assist autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, XDS electronic differential lock and Car2X tech for live traffic and other driving-based updates.
We don't know how much the GTE will cost or when it'll be available to order, but we'll let you know as soon as we do!