Volkswagen Golf GTE review
It's a solid, efficient and desirable plug-in hybrid with hot-hatchback power, but the VW Golf GTE still has some flaws
- Sporty image
- Good to drive
- Iffy infotainment
- Interior quality not perfect
- Some rivals cheaper for private buyers
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||38 miles||237.8mpg||27g/km|
Following its arrival in 2015, demand for the first Volkswagen Golf GTE was so high that ordering had to be paused, allowing the factory to catch up. A blend of Golf GTI styling, impressive performance and low running costs proved highly desirable.
Despite this success, when the GTE left showrooms in 2018, fans had to wait a few years for a replacement to arrive. Now it has been launched, the 'Mark 8' GTE gets all the improvements of the standard Golf, along with a headline-grabbing increased EV range that's sure to excite plug-in Golf enthusiasts.
Total power has jumped from 201 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 201bhp is also available from Style trim; with Skoda Octavia, SEAT Leon and Cupra Leon equivalents also offered.
Our initial test of the GTE took place on a short route close to VW's Wolfsburg headquarters in Germany, but even this limited exposure gave 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 predecessor's 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 3.7kW home wallbox. There's no rapid charging, however, so there's little point heading to a public 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.
CO2 emissions sit at an impressive 27g/km, so the Golf GTE is well placed to take advantage of the currently ultra-low company-car Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax levied on cars like this. And if you can get close to that headline fuel-economy figure, the GTE could make a lot of sense as an alternative to a diesel. For a more in-depth look at the Volkswagen Golf GTE, take a look at the rest of our detailed review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingIt's a solid, efficient and desirable plug-in hybrid with hot-hatchback power, but the VW Golf GTE still has some flaws
- 2Range, MPG, CO2 & chargingImpressive claimed figures will be harder to match in real life, but the VW Golf GTE remains a very efficient car
- 3Running costs & insuranceWhile it will make the most sense for company-car users, the VW Golf GTE will be pricier than some other models in the range for private buyers
- 4Performance, engine & driveWith GTI-like performance despite a little extra weight to carry around, the VW Golf GTE is a solid drive
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThere's a cool design with some nice GTE-specific touches, but the Golf's infotainment system still leaves a lot to be desired
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityWell packaged and with ample interior space, the VW Golf GTE doesn't suffer much in practicality terms over non-electrified versions
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe VW Golf GTE has stellar safety credentials, but reliability is yet to be proven