New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE: specifications and on-sale date

Plug-in hybrid GTE version of Volkswagen Golf returns in Mk8 guise, as other models in line-up get mild-hybrid technology

Volkswagen Golf GTE

The new, eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf will see the plug-in hybrid GTE model returning to the line-up alongside mild-hybrid variants of the popular hatchback. The Mk8 Golf GTE will be the most powerful version of the standard Golf on sale, with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine combining with an electric motor to produce 242bhp.

A 13kWh battery offers up to 39 miles of zero-emissions driving range, with speeds as high as 87mph achievable without assistance from the engine. The cells are almost twice as energy-dense as before, meaning the 135kg unit is only slightly larger than the one found in the previous VW Golf GTE.

Exact performance and fuel-economy figures for the car have yet to be confirmed; standard equipment on the GTE will include a digital cockpit, sat nav, DAB radio, wireless phone charging, voice control, a multifunction leather steering wheel, VW's 'Travel Assist' adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance system, autonomous emergency braking, keyless start, LED  headlights and LED tail-lights, as well as alloy wheels.

VW will also sell a less powerful Mk8 Golf plug-in, known as the eHybrid, with a power output of 201bhp and a near 50-mile electric range, however this will not be sold in the UK. Plug-in hybrid versions of the Golf eHybrid VW Group sister modes, the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia, are also on the way.

The petrol and diesel versions of the new Golf went on sale in February 2020, with the first customer deliveries happening in April, although there was some disruption due to the coronavirus lockdown. An exact on-sale date for the new GTE hasn't been confirmed yet, but orders in some continental European markets are expected to open towards the end of July, with deliveries in October.

New Volkswagen Golf hybrid 

Mild-hybrid technology – which uses a small battery and electric motor to assist an internal-combustion engine – has been introduced elsewhere in the Golf range. This is available on both versions of the 1.5-litre turbocharged engine (producing 128 and 148bhp respectively), plus on the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder variant that's capable of 109bhp. According to Volkswagen, the 48-volt technology should account for 16bhp and make acceleration smoother while improving fuel economy.

All mild-hybrid versions of the Golf will feature a seven-speed automatic gearbox, with no manual compatible. A pair of 2.0-litre diesel variants will also be sold, and both these and the hot GTI and R variants will gain mild-hybrid technology in due course.

Exterior design

On the outside, Volkswagen has chosen not to meddle with its formula, with only subtle changes made to the exterior design. As this Golf is based on the same MQB platform as the outgoing vehicle, the dimensions are almost exactly the same. However, a number of changes are visible: the nose is lower, the grille is slimmer, and narrower headlights – now featuring LED technology as standard – have winged edges that flow into the sides.

SEL-trim cars get a trio of fins spanning the width of the air intake, while R-Line versions of the Golf come with a more open front vent with R badges. The distinctive C-pillar – a recurring feature on the Golf since the arrival of the Mk4 – remains, while the sharper tail-lights are joined by Volkswagen's new logo and Golf lettering on the tailgate.

Interior & technology

Inside is a different story: the interior has been completely overhauled, with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 10-inch infotainment screen housed in a single deck within the dashboard. VW has gone for a minimalist look by eradicating almost all traces of physical buttons and switches: only the hazard warning light button remains on the dashboard, while there are a handful on the steering wheel and mirror adjustment controls on the doors.

Instead, the vast majority of the Golf’s functions are controlled by touch-sensitive surfaces: the temperature is adjusted by sliding a finger along the base of the infotainment screen, while the sunroof is also operated by the sweep of a finger.

The infotainment system is fully customisable, allowing drivers to place menus and shortcuts in their preferred positions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity is standard, and these can be operated wirelessly.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen has also upped its technology game: semi-autonomous driving is available, with the Golf capable of accelerating, steering and braking itself on motorways at speeds of up to 130mph.

Previously, Volkswagen’s small-car boss Karlheinz Hell said the new Golf would “always be online”, and to that end VW is offering its new Car2X system: this broadcasts information from the Golf in real time, and can warn other vehicles of approaching emergency vehicles as well as oncoming hazards.

Volkswagen Golf Estate

New Volkswagen Golf Estate

The estate version of the new Golf has been spied testing almost completely undisguised (above) ahead of its official unveiling. While the estate will almost certainly feature the same mild-hybrid engines as the hatchback (detailed above), it's not yet known whether a plug-in hybrid drivetrain (GTE or otherwise) will be made available in this bodystyle, or whether it'll come to the UK.

If it does, it would be a rival for the Kia Ceed Sportswagon PHEV and Renault Megane E-TECH, as well as estate versions of the SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia plug-in hybrids.