Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||39 miles||TBC||TBC|
Introduced in 2015, the first-generation Golf GTE was a big success for Volkswagen, so much so that orders had to be paused on occasion due to high demand. Buyers were clearly drawn to the combination of low running costs, typical VW quality and Golf GTI-like performance.
But the previous GTE went off sale towards the end of 2018 and there hasn't been a plug-in hybrid Golf since. Now, the new Mark 8 version of the evergreen family hatchback is getting the GTE treatment, and unsurprisingly there are improvements in almost every area.
Total power has jumped from 201bhp to 242bhp, despite the GTE still using a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine rather than the GTI's 2.0-litre. The engine is paired with a 107bhp electric motor, while the 13kWh battery is a significant upgrade on the old car's 8.7kWh unit. A less powerful 'Golf eHybrid' with around 200bhp is being offered in European markets; it won't come to the UK, but its Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon equivalents will.
Our initial test drive of the GTE took place on a short route close to Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters in Germany, but even this limited exposure has given us a good idea of the car's capability. The electric motor ensures brisk acceleration from a standstill to around nearly 90mph before the engine kicks in, and that larger battery sees the car's electric range extended to nearly 40 miles, compared to its predecessors' 30-odd miles.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 6.7 seconds and the claimed top speed is 140mph. Despite not-inconsiderable 1,600kg weight (over 170kg more than the GTI), handling remains agile, the feedback through the steering wheel is satisfying and the car rides as well as any other Golf.
As with all plug-in hybrids, the GTE can behave as a regular hybrid with the engine and regenerative brakes charging the battery, but it's far more efficient to plug in and charge the battery fully between trips. Doing so from a domestic socket will take five hours, or three hours and 40 minutes from a home wallbox charger. There's no rapid-charging capability, however, so there's little point heading to a public charging point when out and about.
General drawbacks of the Mark 8 Golf remain, though, most notably the rather irritating digital dials and infotainment screen, which dominate the dashboard. We find the instruments on the 10-inch digital dials to be too small, while it's far too easy to get lost in a warren of sub-menus while trying to find your desired function.
Those niggles aside, the missing piece of the puzzle for the moment is official fuel-economy and CO2 emissions figures, which have yet to be confirmed. Emissions are expected to be well below 30g/km, though, so the Golf GTE will be well placed to take advantage of the currently ultra-low company-car Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax levied on cars like this.