Once upon a time, hybrids were slow, simple, boring cars that were only driven by Birkenstock-wearing Whole Foods shoppers. These days nearly every automaker offers a hybrid of one kind or another, from simple family sedans to hypercars like the Porsche 918 Spyder. Hybrid car technology is changing the way we look at performance, and the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport Concept is a 174 MPH preview of the plug-in hybrid sports cars of the future.
This month at a gathering of GTI fans at Austria’s Lake Wörthersee, Volkswagen celebrated the 40th anniversary of the GTI with the GTI Clubsport Concept, heading for production next year, and the GTE Sport Concept pictured above. An evolution of the production GTE, 1.6 liter turbocharged, direct-injected engine churns out 295 horsepower to the front wheels, while a pair of electric motors (one at each axle) delivers an additional 113 horsepower and a lot of torque.
Total output is rated at 394 horsepower, and 494 lb-ft of torque in GTE mode, with a top speed of 174 MPH; yet Volkswagen still claims that on the NEDC cycle, the GTE Sport Concept would return a 118 MPGe, with up to 37 miles of all-electric driving range. 0 to 62 MPH is quoted as taking just 4.4 seconds, equivalent to a Mustang GT with the new 5.0 V8.
Volkswagen has been increasingly gung-ho on plug-in car technology, promising dozens of new electrified vehicles across all its brands. The German automaker thinks solid-state batteries could give its plug-in cars a huge range advantage in just a few short years, fueling its goal to become the world’s largest automaker.
This is one of those concepts that I hope we see in production form in the not-too-distant future.