Volkswagen has an issue on its hands with its diesel vehicles. You know this. The entire world knows this. That's because when you apply the suffix "-gate" to the end of anything, it automatically becomes a big deal. Diesels, however, aren't the only thing the automaker has to offer besides gas-drinking vehicles. An all-electric Golf is already offered here in the States, for example. One car we don't get to see on our dealer lots, though, is the Volkswagen Golf GTE... and that's a shame.
We recently got to spend some time with the Golf GTE. It's a plug-in hybrid with comparable performance to the GTI, and that means it has two forms of propulsion under its familiar skin. One is a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine. The other is an electric motor paired with an 8.8-kwh lithium-ion battery. Together, the duo produce 201 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and they send the power to the front wheels by way of a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
The GTE is happy to run in its pure electric mode when you have enough juice. Once you use up those precious electrons, the gasoline engine hums to life with minimal announcement of its call to action. This electrified GTI feels very much like its non-battery-aided counterpart. Yes, the battery pack adds 265 pounds to the curb weight, but you'd do the same in your GTI when you pick up that one friend who enjoys fast food a little too often.
This is a peek at what Volkswagen could (and should) be bringing to this market in the very near future. You can already sort of buy this car if you head over to the Audi lot. It's very nearly an A3 e-tron. The Golf version, however, retains the heart of the VW brand by applying some plaid coloring to the seats and utilizing the stylish Golf sheet metal we've come to love.