By: IOL Motoring Staff
Volkswagen is forging into brave territory with its new Golf GTE - which you can basically call a hot hatch hybrid.
Yet this one is significantly greener than most hybrids as its large battery has a plug-in feature that allows owners to charge the car at home and then drive for up to 50km on electric power alone.
The drivetrain mates a 1.4-litre TSI turbopetrol engine to an electric motor for a combined output of 150kW. Given that it's so close to GTI territory, we won't dispute VW's claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.6 seconds but we will take the consumption figures under advisement.
According to provisional data the GTE achieves a combined fuel consumption figure of just 1.5 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 35g/km, but be warned that driving longer distances and putting pedal to metal will result in a figure significantly higher than that. Of course, an average commute to work and back, if you charge the battery every day, will bring that figure down to zero.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
It's all about offering the best of both worlds really - zero emissions on shorter trips, enticing performance when you want it and, unlike conventional electric vehicles it has the ability to drive long distances - VW claims a driving range of around 933km between refuels.
The GTE's 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery can be charged, from a domestic mains outlet, in around three and a half hours, according to Volkswagen.
This feeds an electric motor, which integrated into the housing of the triple-clutch six-speed DSG gearbox that VW developed specifically for hybrid vehicles.
Unlike many 'green' vehicles, this Golf doesn't make style compromises. In fact, the GTE has been dressed up with some racy details like C-shaped LED daytime running lights, GTI-like horizontal fins on the front bumper and unique 18-inch 'Serron' alloy wheels.
The cabin has been given its own makeover, but in places where the GTI features red detailing, the GTE has a blue colour scheme. How soothing.
A standard fitting is VW's eight-inch Discover Pro satnav system, which can identify potential destinations that can be reached on electric range and tells you where to find electric charging points.
VWSA currently has no plans to bring the GTE to South Africa.