Driving the Golf GTE is like meeting up with an old friend that you’d forgotten was great fun. The Golf GTE entertains while delivering GTI-like performance but with the added bonus of being emissions friendly thanks to its hybrid form.
The GTE has emissions per kilometre of only 40g/CO2 – that puts it the lowest tax band of A1. Hybrid and plug in hybrid power is now taken for granted and is on the rise due in the main to the demonisation of fossil fuels. The witch hunt of diesel has seen buyers shift back to petrol power in a knee jerk reaction. The unintended by product of this move is a rise in emissions as petrol engines, even modern ones, produce more CO2 than their diesel equivalents. By combining petrol and electric power you get silky smooth power delivery that is refreshingly quiet. The VW electric only Golf e (€45,350) is fantastic and a lovely thing to drive, but, like all EVs it has to be recharged when it runs out of juice or you’re going nowhere! Not so with the almost as green GTE plug in hybrid.
Power comes from a lively 150hp 1.4TSI turbocharged petrol engine and a high torque electric motor (aren’t they all) that can deliver 50 kilometres of electric range from its Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Full charging via the car’s socket behind the grille badge takes as little as two and a quarter hours from a public charger. At worst it can take three hours forty five minutes from a domestic three pin plug. Combined the GTE has a healthy output of 204hp/350nm delivered through its front wheels. Unlike most hybrids the GTE uses a DSG (automated manual gearbox) to deliver power to the wheels – so thankfully there is no annoying CVT whine when accelerating hard. You can drive economically all day long with a quoted driving range on 18 inch wheels of 829km (NEDC) on a full tank and charge. Unlike many hybrids the driver can control what way the power is delivered to the front wheels and by what motors. The electric motor only mode ‘e-mode’ is perfect for city use as zero emissions will come out of the exhaust pipe. If you want a giggle the ‘GTE button’ is the one to press. This dials everything up to 11 and all of that glorious electric torque is on hand to make scalding standing starts – relatively to ordinary traffic anyway. The sprint from 0-100km/h takes 7.6 seconds.
Outside the five door only GTE looks very smart, and apologies for the recurring reference, it looks GTI-like. Instead of the red high lighting around the car the hybrid GTE gets blue. In some market the cars starts on 16 inch alloys but Irish cars come with a higher standard specification and ride on 18 inch Sevilla alloys. The GTE’s brake calipers are painted a smart blue. The car looks mean but different at the same time. Full LED lighting with the GTE is efficient and effective too. The indicators sweep when activated just like in posher Audis.
Inside is as you would expect from a sporty Golf there are subtle touches that enhance the sensation of GTI sorry GTE-ness! Plus there is VW’s Car-Net connectivity and e-Remote app. VW’s set up allows owners to access some cool functions (yes you can operate the air conditioning remotely) via a smart phone through a number of VW apps. Perfect tech for early adopters.
The GTE PHEV qualifies for environmental grants from the SEAI (€5K) plus a VRT concession (€2.5K). My test car with grants weighed in at €41,426 including €601 of metallic paint. There are a number of additional packs you can specify and its worth noting that adaptive chassis control with DCC and driving profile selection is a cost option. The Golf GTE comes with an 8 year battery warranty.
Regular Volkswagen Golf prices start from €21,095. The GTI starts from €38,195 (3dr) or €39,195 (5dr) with the equivalent GTD models circa two grand dearer than the GTI. The Golf GTE gets a lot of equipment is standard with some noticeable toys being the sports seats with the famous Clark fabric trim, the dash mounted 8 inch touch screen featuring the Composition media sound system, LED headlights and daytime running lights, dynamic cornering light, front assist emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, GTE driving profile selection, front fogs, park distance control, adaptive cruise control, voice control and auto headlight range and main beam function.
For similar money to a Golf GTD you can get the far greener and more entertaining GTE… it’s a no brainer.