For over 30 years now, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the car that has come to define the hot hatchback segment, with the latest iteration going from 0 to 60 MPH in just 6.3 seconds. But in Europe, a challenger may have risen up from within the Golf family, and that challenger is the Golf GTE, a plug-in hybrid, and there’s video proof to back up these outlandish claims.
On paper, the two cars aren’t even in the same speed bracket, with the Golf GTE “officially” rated at 7.6 seconds to 60 MPH. That may not sound like much, but it can be the difference between first and fourth place all the same. In pure electric mode the GTE is even slower, taking 10.5 seconds to reach 60 MPH. That’s the official line at least.
But this video purports to show a different story with the GTE’s 148 horsepower 1.4 liter turbo engine working in conjunction with the 101 horsepower electric motor. While Volkswagen says that only 201 horsepower at most is available at any particular time, that may not be the case. Keep in mind, the GTE is also heavier than the GTI by a couple of hundred pounds (depending on your particular configuration). True, the Golf R still supercedes the GTI in pure acceleration, but the GTI is the more attainable and “realistic” of the two cars to actually own. So why would VW lie about a hot-hatch that is nearly as fast as the GTI and gets 157 MPGe?
As Ford learned with the Mustang in the 1980s, you don’t mess with tradition, and supplanting the GTI with the GTE would make for some hurt enthusiasts. There was a time at GM when cars like the Camaro and Trans Am were deliberately hindered in their performance so as to not out-perform the more-expensive Corvette, so there might be some similar thinking going on here. There’s also probably an unfortunate perception that people shopping for a hybrid like the GTE aren’t particularly interested in performance. A missed opportunity to be sure, though I’d like to see a few independent tests to verify the acceleration.
Alas, the GTE isn’t sold in America, and Volkswagen has no plans to offer another plug-in car alongside the e-Golf. It’s just business, as they say.