Pros: Surprising performance, urban economy, refined drive
Cons: Hard suspension, e-Golf impresses more, small boot
The Volkswagen Golf is one of few cars on the market that is available in petrol, diesel, electric and plug-in hybrid guise. The Golf GTE is the plug-in hybrid option in range, and it is rather sporty by plug-in hybrid standards. With up to 50 kilometres of electric range and a lively 1.4 TSI petrol engine, the Golf GTE blends electric and petrol power together for low daily running costs, and it is an enticing alternative to other plug-in hybrids like the Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq and Audi A3 e-Tron. But is the Golf GTE better-suited to Irish roads than the all-electric Volkswagen e-Golf? We tested it on Irish roads recently to find out.
What is it like?
The Golf GTE doesn’t shout about its green credentials like most other plug-in hybrids and it is difficult to distinguish from other models in the Golf range. Subtle details that show it is a hybrid include blue colouring in the front grill, headlights and brake callipers, GTE badges on the side panels and striking horse shoe-shaped LED daytime running lights. As standard, the GTE is very well-equipped with 18-inch wheels, sports bumpers, tinted rear windows and a body-coloured rear spoiler for a sporty finish. Quite cleverly, the charge point for charging the battery is hidden from view behind the Volkswagen emblem at the front of the car. The Volkswagen emblem pops open easily to reveal the point to connect the charging cable.
The Golf GTE boasts a high level of standard equipment, including supportive sports seats finished in Volkswagen’s iconic ‘Clark’ design upholstery, a flat bottomed steering wheel and a glass-faced infotainment touch screen with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The GTE is mostly like the regular Golf with plenty of room for four passengers, although boot space is small as the hybrid system’s batteries takes up considerable room under the floor. The Active Info driver’s display illustrates the hybrid system very well with clear displays showing battery use and recharge time.
The Golf GTE combines a 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine with an electric system for plug-in hybrid status. The engine and electric motor produce a combined power output of 204 horsepower, which results in considerable performance out on the road. The GTE can sprint from 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds when pushed which is quite impressive, but this quickly drains the range of the battery. It is more rewarding to drive the GTE reservedly to preserve battery power and maximise fuel economy returns. Volkswagen claims the Golf GTE offers up to 50 kilometres of potential electric range, and it the hybrid system transitions seamlessly between electric and petrol power out on the road.
Three different driving modes can be selected using a button beside the gear lever, allowing you to drive on electric power only, store battery power for later and use the petrol engine or even a mode which recharges the battery on the move. We typically achieved up to 30 kilometres of electric driving after charging the GTE, and found the system is best-suited to urban-style stop-start driving. Running costs are low with annual motor tax of €170 and Volkswagen claims economy as little as 2l/100 kilometres.
Out on the road, the Golf GTE drives like most other models in the Golf range, even though the hybrid system adds extra weight. It can get a little unsettled on bumpy back roads however as the suspension setup focuses on comfort over driving engagement, and it isn’t as enjoyable to drive as the Golf GTD or GTi as a result. What it is however, is relaxing around town and well-suited to daily use, with a focus on comfort over driving dynamics. The large 18-inch alloy wheels add lots of style and presence, but add noise to the cabin at higher speeds too.
Prices for the new Volkswagen Golf GTE start from just over €40,000 including the €5,000 SEAI electric vehicle grant, which means it is positioned at the premium end of the plug-in hybrid class. Standard specification is excellent, with 18-inch wheels, sports seats, ambient interior lighting, LED headlights, front and rear park distance control, adaptive cruise control, the eight-inch touch screen system and lots more as standard. Our test car has optional Atlantic Blue metallic paint for an extra €601.
Carzone verdict: 3.5/5
The Volkswagen Golf GTE is a stand out plug-in hybrid package, with sporty styling, low running costs and a high level of standard equipment. The new model is much-improved over its predecessor, and it offers surprising performance out on the road too. It is rather expensive in base specification however (€45k excluding grants) and priced significantly higher than a comparable diesel Golf, while it isn’t as enjoyable to drive. That said, the GTE’s residuals will likely prove strong for years to come, and it remains one of the most refined plug-in hybrid models on the market right now.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Volkswagen Golf GTE
Prices from: €40,050
Price as tested: €40,825
Annual Road Tax: €170
Engine: 1395cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol / electric motor
Top Speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 7.6 seconds
Transmission: DSG Automatic
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 272 litres