Volkswagen Golf GTE

VW Golf GTE, front action
VW Golf GTE, side static
VW Golf GTE, rear static
VW Golf GTE, dashboard
VW Golf GTE, rear seats
VW Golf GTE, boot
VW Golf GTE, badge
VW Golf GTE, charging dial
VW Golf GTE, charging

DRIVING Volkswagen's Golf GTE is an insight into the motoring of tomorrow.

Based on that icon of sports hatch enjoyment, the Volkswagen GTI, the GTE is a dedicated plug-in hybrid.

Although this version sells alongside the GTI fuel-injected model and GTD diesel, it is a very different animal.

The car is something of a revelation. Like its Volkswagen Group stablemate the Audi A3 e-tron, the GTE can run on electric power only, hybrid power or on its punchy 1.4 TSI direct injection petrol engine.

With the emergence of these sophisticated models we all evolve our own driving strategy and to me the beauty of this car is its ability to rapidly charge its own battery. Running on engine power you can quickly rack up 25-odd electric only miles to use up in town.

Or you could just leave it in hybrid mode. The choice is there depending on the circumstances of the drive.

If you only use the car around town there is a scenario in which the petrol engine may only be used infrequently, the charging being done by plugging the car in at home. Or on longer distances, electric power can be saved for driving through zero emission zones.

This combination of petrol and electric motor gives the car a theoretical range of 580 miles which is a very attractive proposition.

Power is via a six-speed DSG gearbox which has been developed for hybrid vehicles.

And it is no disappointment to drive. Anyone who thinks this a sluggish and environmentally dumbed down version of the GTI should think again because its two power units combine to produce 204ps which endow a 138mph top speed and a zero to 62mph sprint factor of 7.6 seconds. Yet it returns a combined mpg figure of 166mpg and emissions of just 39g/km.

This is one of the most silent cars I have driven. Running on electric only it is barely audible and you do have to have regard for pedestrians when parking in busy areas. If you think they can hear you, they usually can't.

So where ‘s the catch? My only concern is the price. At £33,755 this is an expensive car for its size, but there is a government PICG grant available to help.

With global sales of over 30 million, in its seventh generation and having celebrated its 40thanniversary in March 2014, the Golf continues to offer buyers a car which sets benchmarks in comfort, practicality, safety and efficiency.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Price: £33,755

Mechanical:204ps,1,395cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 138mph

0-62mph: 7.6 seconds

Combined MPG: 166

Insurance Group: 26

C02 emissions: 39g/km

Bik rating:5%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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