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Volkswagen unveils Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept: 0-100 km/h in 4.3s and 118 mpg

Golf GTE Sport PHEV concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen used the annual Wörthersee festival in Austria as the venue to unveil the Golf GTE Sport concept plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Featuring a carbon fiber body and a three power unit, all-wheel drive system, the 295 kW (396 hp) Golf GTE Sport accelerates from 0 - 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, has a top speed of up to 280 km/h (174 mph), yet offers fuel consumption of just 2.0 l/100 km/h (118 mpg) on the NEDC cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles. All-electric range is up to 50 km (31 miles).

The 1.6 liter TSI (turbocharged direct-injection engine) adapted from the engine used in the Polo R WRC (World Rally Car) is fitted in the engine compartment at the front. The delivers 220 kW (295 hp) and maximum torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). Volkswagen has already won the World Rally Championship twice with this engine. In the Golf GTE Sport, the four-cylinder unit is assisted by two electric motors, each producing 85 kW.


The front electric motor is integrated in the housing of the 6-speed DSG (DQ400E). It develops maximum torque of 330 N·m (243 lb-ft). The second electric motor is located at the rear where it delivers 270 Nm (199 lb-ft). The total torque of the drive system is 670 Nm (494 lb-ft).

In normal operation the Golf GTE Sport drives just as quietly as the production Golf GTE that is already on the market. (Earlier post.) In “E-Mode” it sets off purely electrically. In “E-Mode”, the rear axle electric motor has primary responsibility for propulsion. When high demands are made on performance, the front electric motor is also activated to provide support.

When a defined minimum charge of the Li-ion battery pack is reached, the 1.6 TSI automatically switches on and the Golf GTE Sport drives in “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.

As soon as the drive system or the driver deactivates “E-Mode”, the Golf GTE Sport becomes a classic full hybrid with regenerative braking charging the battery and automatic utilization of the right combination of TSI and/or electric motors according to the specific drive situation.

When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, and the battery is sufficiently charged, all drive sources are shut off—i.e., coasting. If the driver releases the accelerator pedal or brakes, and the battery is insufficiently charged, the two electric motors operate as generators and charge the lithium-ion battery with the energy recovered from braking.

With the dual mode “Battery Hold” or “Battery Charge” the battery’s energy content can be deliberately kept constant by the driver (“Hold”) or increased (“Charge”). When the 1.6 TSI engine is the sole source of propulsion, the concept car is a pure front-wheel drive car.

A “GTE” switch is located in the overhead console. When the driver operates this switch, the full 295 kW of system power is available. The Golf GTE Sport sprints to 50 km/h (31 mph) in 1.8 seconds, reaches 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds, and the maximum speed permitted in Austria, i.e. 130 km/h (81 mph), in 6.5 seconds. On German motorways, the concept car reaches 200 km/h (124 mph) in 15.9 seconds. In “GTE-Mode” all four wheels of the Golf are driven.

In “GTE-Mode” and as soon as the situation necessitates it, the drive power of the Golf GTE Sport is distributed to both axles. In this case (and if battery charge is low), the front electric motor acts solely as a generator driven by the TSI engine and is a source of electricity for its counterpart at the rear axle. Since the energy for driving the rear axle flows by wire and not mechanically here, this is referred to as an “electric propshaft”.

Because the TSI drives the rear electric motor via the front electric motor, the all-wheel drive system also operates when the battery’s charge state is low. The importance of the implementation of the “electric propshaft” for Volkswagen with regard to series production is demonstrated by the fact that the company has had the German equivalent of this designation protected under copyright law.

Two-seater race car. The driver and passenger board the two-seater interior of the Golf GTE Sport through doors that swing right up in the style of the XL 1. The doors extend a long way up into the roof and down into the side sills, resulting in convenient boarding when they are opened upwards.


The interior in carbon and microfiber consists of two completely separate areas for the driver and passenger. Like in motorsport vehicles, they sit quite a long way to the back on racing bucket seats with five-point belts. Accordingly, the steering column that is entirely clad in carbon projects a long way into the interior where it appears to float—a further characteristic feature of a rally car or touring-car racer. The functional elements are operated via controllers and buttons in the cocoon-like interior trim. The gearbox of the Golf GTE Sport can also be operated manually with shift paddles on the motorsport steering wheel.


Instruments on three levels. The instruments featuring a completely new design have been specially coordinated for the configuration of the driver’s workspace. The Volkswagen interface designers opted for three transparent displays arranged behind one another on which all relevant information is displayed. On the smallest display at the front (closest to the driver) information such as the selected gear and the recuperation status is displayed; information that is only sporadically checked from the corner of the eye while driving. The center display has secondary, yet more complex, information such as the power currently delivered by the drive (power meter) and the boost intensity of the plug-in system (electric boost). Information such as the current speed and the range are constantly in the driver's field of vision on the third and largest display.

In addition, in “GTE mode” not only is the current lap displayed (e.g. 9 of 16), but there is also a virtual indicator of the ideal driving line—valuable assistance for safe and fast driving on complex racetracks such as the Nürburgring north loop.


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