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
When it launched in back 2015, the first-generation Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid was so popular that ordering had to be paused for a while to allow the factory building it to catch up. Its blend of Golf GTI styling, impressive performance and low running costs proved to be highly desirable.
Despite this success, when that GTE left showrooms in 2018, fans had to wait a few years for a replacement to arrive. Now it has arrived, the 'Mk8' GTE boasts all the improvements made to the standard Golf, along with a headline-grabbing increased electric 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; this engine is offered in the Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon hybrids, too.
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 this car's not-inconsiderable 1,600kg weight (over 170kg more than the GTI), handling remains agile, the feedback through the steering wheel is satisfying and the GTE 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 top up 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.
The general drawbacks of the Mk8 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 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 - although so is the cheaper Golf eHybrid. 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'll make most sense for company-car users, the VW Golf GTE is 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 plenty of interior space, the VW Golf GTE isn't much less practical than the non-hybrid version
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe VW Golf GTE has stellar safety credentials, but reliability is yet to be proven