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Our Fleet Test Drive: Volkswagen Golf GTE - first report

Date: 12 January 2016   |   Author: Guy Bird

Equipment: Seven airbags, adaptive cruise control including city emergency braking, electric park brake with auto hold, auto aircon, lights and wipers, leather-covered multi-function steering wheel with paddle-shift, 5.8in colour touchscreen, Bluetooth with USB, front and rear parking sensors, 18in alloys, bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights
Options: Discover Navigation Pro DVD radio with voice activation (£1765), Winter pack inc. heated front seats and windscreen washer jets (£380), Keyless entry inc. console-mounted stop/start button (£365), Pure White paint (£260), Park Assist aid (£150)

VW's petrol-electric, plug-in hybrid GTE could go some way to repairing the brand's image given its diesel emissions cheating woes.

Launched well before the crisis hit, the car, a BusinessCar 2015 Green Development Techie Award winner, has been billed as GTI fun with some electric capability thrown in, and it sits in the VW range alongside the solely petrol-powered GTI and diesel GTD; the 'E' standing for 'electric'.  

First impressions are good, but in an understated way. Unlike my previous BMW i3 range extender long-termer, the GTE doesn't turn heads, as it's a familiar design. But closer inspection reveals smart tweaks to reflect its greener credentials, mainly involving the colour blue replacing normally red GTI accents around the front grille and lights [1] and also, rather nattily, woven into the classic tartan check seat upholstery [2].

Open the doors, which provide typically great access, and the dashboard and controls are firmly within familiar Golf territory [3], aside perhaps from the Discover Navigation Pro system with voice activation and some smartphone functionality such as 'pinch and swipe' to expand, contract and move maps. At £1765 it's expensive, but a option.

The other extras (see 'Options', above) bring the total to just under £3000, but all are of marginal use from this driver's perspective, especially the £150 Park Assist, which aims to help you park, but involves sensors bleeping endlessly when nothing of concern is remotely nearby (and when you're not trying to park). Paying £260 for non-metallic 'Pure White' paint also seems a bit of a liberty. What's the alternative, I wonder? 'Impure White'? The only free paint colour, by the way, is non-metallic black.

Of course, the car's USP is its plug-in hybrid powertrain that combines a 150hp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with a 102hp electric motor, able to offer a max 204hp, dispatch 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, emit an official 39g/km of CO2 (equating to a tax-busting 5% BIK) and claim 166mpg.

That final figure will rest heavily on our ability to use electric power as much as possible, something we got used to out of necessity with our i3, but a lifestyle that was tricky due to London's electric charging infrastructure problems. However, as the GTE doesn't rely on electric to survive, day-to-day transport should be refreshingly easy.

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Mileage 7015
Official consumption 166mpg
Our average consumption n/a
Forecast/actual CPM 61.5p/tbc
P11D price £33,700*
Model price range £17,540-£35,465
Residual value 32.0%
Depreciation cost £22,925
Fuel £1677
Service, maintenance and repair £2952
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £977
CO2 (BIK band) 39g/km (5%)
BIK 20/40% per month £28/£56
Why we're running it: To see how this BusinessCar Techie Award winner performs in the real world
* Before £5k OLEV Govt. grant and not incl. options fitted

Verdict


  • Cutting edge technology in a familiar package
  • Over-sensitive sensors

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