Is it an advance for this upgraded hybrid?
In some ways the new Golf GTE is simply less. It doesn’t get the power upgrade lavished on both the latest GTI and e-Golf, nor does it get the e-Golf’s extended range. And of course the government PHEV grant has been cut from the £5,000 it was to £2,500. But VW has countered that so you’re paying less too, for this uprated model.
VW’s own estimate is that, like for like, the price has dropped by around £3,500. That sounds about right as the old model was around £36k and this new one is about £32k.
So, more car for less money – what’s not to like? It comes with the latest LED lights front and rear, and a neat, blue-lit digital Active Info Display ahead of the driver. You can refine the instrumentation mode to suit the drive modes, which makes things a bit easier to follow when you have E-mode, Hybrid, Battery Charge and GTE.
VW Golf GTE Advance
Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbo petrol; plus electric motor
Gearbox: Six-speed twin-clutch automatic
Top speed: 138mph
CO2/tax band: 40g/km, 9%
E-Mode gives you in the 18 to 25-mile range solely on battery power, and it’s surprisingly perky in that mode, certainly enough for getting around in zero-emission zones. At the other end of the scale, GTE is the sports mode, such as it is.
If you’re thinking GTI or R performance, then you’re not thinking right. Under the bonnet is the 1.4-litre petrol engine, so that’s good for 148bhp. That’s joined by a 101bhp electric motor with a combined actual total of 201bhp. The combination gives swift cross-country performance but it’s not at the top of the hot hatch category.
Instead it seems very good for making rapid progress because of the hefty midrange. That’s a good thing as the looks of the car don’t quite mesh with the slightly self-effacing noise of the 1.4-litre engine. Better to sit in one of the lower modes.
The six-speed DSG auto box is also a bit hesitant about what to do sometimes so, if you’ve got the prod, simply use the paddles for a smoother progress.
Our car came with the optional adaptive dampers, which worked well in most modes but again didn’t feel quite the thing in GTE mode. Handling is good but there’s no doubt that you can feel the extra weight of this hybrid over the purer GTI. You feel it through the ride quality more than handling, so rough surfaces even at lower speeds can feel a bit poorly controlled.
If you’re after a hot hatch with some electric poke this isn’t a totally convincing combination. There’s too much weight and not quite enough performance, with everything pointing towards backing off a touch and taking it a bit easier.
If you do that, this is a very viable and economical company car to consider. You get the badge, you get that fabulous VW build quality, notable particularly in the cabin, and you have the options of running on electricity or petrol power or a combination of both. Put like that, the GTE makes a lot of sense.