Setting their current problems with diesel engines to one side, VW is boldly racing on with their new Golf GTE Sport concept – showing it for the first time in North America at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November. VW says this concept car will blur the lines between road and motorsport vehicles – blending pure sports car features like drivetrain, suspension, body and interior with an advanced plug-in hybrid system that is capable of zero-emission driving.
The Golf GTE Sport will be powered by a tri-fecta of motors that will deliver a total 395 horsepower when in full Sport Mode says VW. The base power plant in the GTE Sport is a 1.6-liter TSI engine adapted from the two-time World Rally Championship winning Polo R WRC and delivers 295 horsepower and maximum torque of 295 pound-feet. The four-cylinder engine is assisted by two electric motors, one in the front of the car and one in the rear. The front motor develops 113 horsepower and maximum torque of 243 lb-ft, while the rear motor has the same power output and 199 lb-ft of torque: the total system delivers 494 lb.-ft. of torque through the six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Working together, the all-wheel-drive Golf GTE Sport is capable of a zero to 62 mph time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph. In the NEDC cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the fuel economy for the GTE Sport is said to be 118 mpg.
The exterior of the Golf GTE Sport is a vision of how Golf GT models could develop in future. The body of the Golf GTE Sport is largely made of lightweight carbonfiber. The silhouette features C-pillars with a unique two-level design. This C-pillar treatment is not only dynamic from a design standpoint—with the vehicle taking an hourglass shape from front to back—but also functional, as the airstream flows between the two levels and contributes to the aerodynamic downforce and cooling for the rear brakes.
The concept car is painted in pearlescent “White Club” and has two gullwing doors that swing forwards. The upper part of each door extends into the roof and is entirely made of dark exposed carbonfiber. A three-dimensional side sill is integrated in the door cutout and also enhanced at the top with carbonfiber. Other elements receiving the carbonfiber treatment are the door mirror caps, the door window frames and the lower sill area. The wheelarches are filled with 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels fitted with 235/35 tires at the front and 275/30 tires at the rear.
From the front one sees a cue borrowed from the production Golf GTE – a blue crossbar running across the width of the vehicle. Three black chrome crossbars extend across the center air intake under this blue strip. Another air intake below the crossbars is framed at the top and to the sides by a carbonfiber aerodynamic element, while a carbonfiber double spoiler rounds off the front. The high-gloss black grille has the honeycomb structure typical of Volkswagen GT models and C-shaped LED daytime running lights frame the grille at the sides, transitioning into sharp LED headlights.
Moving to the rear, the double C-pillars give the Golf GTE Sport a wide and powerful stance, tapering at an angle to the rear and merging with the bumper. The tailgate is typically Golf, says VW, with the added detail of a black carbonfiber spoiler. A large exposed diffuser integrates round stainless-steel tips for the twin-pipe exhaust system.
On this inside one sees more carbonfiber plus microfiber used in the unique completely separate areas for the driver and passenger. Racing bucket seats with five-point belts are positioned to the rear of the car and the steering column projects further into the interior, like a race car. The motorsport steeringwheel includes paddle shifters for the transmission.
The dash has three transparent instrument displays that are arranged behind one another showing selected gear and battery status on one; power being delivered by the drivetrain and the electric boost of the plug-in system on the second with the large third display showing speed and driving range.
Other controls include a multifunction switch for starting and stopping the hybrid drive system and a button for activating a fire extinguisher system – yes, we said fire extinguisher.
The drive mode selector is situated in the roof and allows selection by the driver of either “E-Mode”, “GTE-Mode” or “Hybrid-Mode”. In normal operation the Golf GTE Sport drives just as quietly as the production Golf GTE.
In “E-Mode” the concept car uses only the battery to drive for up to 31 miles on a single charge. When the minimum battery charge is reached, the 1.6 TSI engine is automatically switched on and the Golf GTE Sport moves to “Hybrid” mode. As soon as the battery reaches a certain charge level again, “E-Mode” can be reactivated at any time via a switch in the overhead console. In “E-Mode”, the rear electric motor is primarily responsible for powering the vehicle—when high performance is demanded, the front motor is activated to provide more power.
When the driver activates the “GTE” switch, the character of the Golf GTE Sport’s drivetrain changes drastically. The full system power of 395 horsepower is available—the turbocharged 295-hp gas engine is combined with the electric drive components and the Golf GTE Sport sprints from rest to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds.
You can see the Golf GTE Sport Plug-In Hybrid concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show November 17 to 19. We expect it will also appear at other shows in the U.S. between now and next Spring.