Techies 2015: Green Development - VW Golf GTE
25 August 2015
The VW Golf has made a name for itself by being the consummate all-round family car over the seven generations it's been on UK roads. And it is exactly this appeal that makes the GTE stand out.
While the GTE offers official economy of 166mpg and CO2 emissions of just 39g/km, this is a car that can also cover up to 580 miles between fills and sprint to 62mph in a speedy 7.6 seconds - all without compromising the Golf's normal positives, although boot space does shrink a little thanks to the addition of batteries under the boot floor.
With a 148hp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet allied with an electric motor - which brings total power up to 201hp - performance is sprightly enough for Volkswagen to brand it as "like a GTI but greener". Meanwhile, owners won't have to worry about running out of charge thanks to the pairing of petrol and electric power, which also lets the GTE travel up to 31 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to 81mph.
The company continues: "It's this utter normality that makes the Golf GTE stand out from the crowd of other eco-friendly and electric products. In terms of appearance, it's a Golf. In terms of practicality, it's a Golf. In terms of driveability and servicing, it's a normal Golf."
The addition of a plug-in hybrid model to the range makes the Golf the first model to be available with petrol, diesel, electric, plug-in hybrid and CNG powertrains (the latter not offered in the UK), with all models built on the same production lines. Take into account the price tag and the GTE compares favourably with its petrol, diesel and electric equivalents too. Throw in the Government's £5000 Plug-In Car Grant and £28,755 will get you the keys to the entry-level model - around £1000 less than five-door DSG automatic versions of the GTI and GTD.
Confirming its position at the top of the green leaderboard, one of our judges stated: "The Golf GTE is here now, there's no compromise with range and it's quick and fun while being cleaner than most. And like all Golfs it's a sensible car with good residual values."
And this is the key: while many electric cars are hamstrung by limited real-world range - often struggling to reach 100 miles per charge - the Golf GTE isn't, and it offers real economy and emissions benefits over the standard petrol and diesel models.
Highly commended - Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell
Hyundai makes a strong claim for the green award as the manufacturer of the world's first commercially available hydrogen-powered fuel-cell car.
The ix35 Fuel Cell also offers much greater real-world usability than electric cars - being capable of around 370 miles per tank and able to be refuelled as quickly as a petrol car - giving it the potential to be a practical everyday vehicle, provided buyers can stump up £53,105.
Another serious limitation is the limited network of hydrogen filling stations, but it's futuristic and genuinely zero-emission motoring that's available here and now.
Highly commended - Tesla Model S
While most electric cars can cover around 100 miles per charge, Tesla's Model S is capable of up to 330 miles. One of the latest models to arrive is the entry-level 70D, costing £50,000 after the £5000 Government grant.
Despite its entry-level title, the 70D features all-wheel drive, can sprint to 60mph in a rapid 5.2 seconds and is capable of up to 275 miles per charge - substantially more than most fully electric cars. The top-spec P85D manages 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a 305-mile range.
Adding to the Model S's appeal as a fleet machine is the ability to recharge for free at Tesla's growing Supercharger network, rock-bottom company car tax rates, free VED and no London Congestion Charge.