2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTE: performance, price and specifications

The new Volkswagen Golf is now available in two high-performance hot hatchback flavours: the petrol Golf GTI and the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid

James Allen
Oct 29, 2020

Volkswagen introduced the eighth generation of the Golf in 2020 with five-door hatchback and more practical estate versions, and now it’s adding high-performance hot hatchback versions to the range in petrol and plug-in hybrid form.

As with the previous seventh generation Golf, drivers after a sporty new Golf will have multiple versions to choose from including the petrol-only Golf GTI, and the petrol-electric Golf GTE plug-in hybrid.

Despite having differing engine formats, the two cars are pretty similar when it comes to performance: both the GTI and GTE produce 245hp, and can each accelerate to 62mph from a standing start in under 7.0 seconds. That makes them speedy, but very much mid-level hot hatchbacks, sitting below super-fast models such as the BMW M135i and Audi S3.

There isn’t much to separate the two cars on price, either. While the Golf GTE is the more expensive of the pair - due to its extra complexity, no doubt - with prices at launch starting at £35,960, it doesn’t carry a massive premium over the Golf GTI’s base price of £33,460 - or £34,460, if you tick the option box for the seven-speed automatic (the GTE is only available in automatic form).

It’s the fuel economy figures where the two cars start to diverge from one another. Whereas the GTI can return a decent 38mpg, the GTE is capable of up to 176mpg - though, as with all plug-in hybrid cars, how often you’re able to match that will depend greatly on whether you charge the batteries regularly and how much of your driving is done on electric power.

Cover only short journeys - the GTE offers a claimed electric-only range of 32 miles on a full charge - and plug in every time you get home and you may never need to fill up with petrol. Forget to top up the batteries, however, and you may find that your fuel economy is not very different to that of the GTI, which has no electric assistance, but also doesn't have to lug around the extra weight of batteries.

Quick facts

  • Up to 245hp and 400Nm on offer
  • Petrol power for GTI; petrol-electric for GTE
  • Manual and automatic gearboxes available
  • GTE offers up to 32 miles of electric range
  • Prices start from £33,460
  • On sale now

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI performance and economy

In a world where some hot hatchbacks are churning out over 400hp, the 245hp and 370Nm of torque from the Golf GTI’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine seems quite tame in comparison. However, that’s still enough punch to make it a quick car: with the seven-speed automatic gearbox fitted, the car can accelerate to 62mph from a standing start in 6.2 seconds.

A six-speed manual gearbox will also be offered on the new GTI, though there aren’t any official acceleration times for that spec yet. Typically the best new automatic models are a little quicker to accelerate than equivalent manual models, so expect a 0-62mph figure of around 6.5 seconds for the manual. Regardless of the gearbox that’s fitted, Volkswagen claims the Golf GTI will top out at 155mph.

Because it’s a powerful performance model, the GTI is some way from having the best efficiency figures in the Volkswagen Golf range. However, the fuel economy is pretty respectable for a hot hatch: according to Volkswagen, the new Golf GTI can return up to 38mpg, irrespective of the gearbox that’s fitted to the car.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE performance and economy

As it’s a plug-in hybrid, the Golf GTE is a bit more complex than the petrol-only GTI. Petrol power comes from a 150hp 1.4-litre engine and there’s an extra 110hp courtesy of the electric motor. That results in a total on-paper output of 260hp and 400Nm of torque - but, because of the way the engine and motor each produce their power, the maximum amount of oomph available at any one time is a still pretty strong 245hp.

It also means the Golf GTE is pretty close to the GTI in terms of performance: the claimed 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.7 seconds is only half a second down on the petrol-powered car. And, while there’s also a deficit in top speed, the 140mph the GTE can achieve is more than enough for British roads.

Where the GTE loses ground in outright pace, it makes up for it with its on-paper running costs. The claimed CO2 emissions of 36g/km means the GTE is much more affordable to tax than the Golf GTI, and the quoted fuel economy figure of 176mpg is also very impressive.

However, as with all plug-in hybrid cars, how close you’ll get to matching that will depend on how often you charge the car and the length of journeys you cover. Stick to short trips and regular recharging and you could beat that economy figure. Never charge and cover lots of long trips, though, and you may get near to the 40mpg of the petrol-only Golf GTI.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE range and charging times

Being a plug-in hybrid car, the Golf GTE’s big trump card over the Golf GTI is that it can cover shorter journeys using just the electric motor - provided you've charged the battery beforehand. According to Volkswagen, the GTE’s 13kWh battery is big enough to allow a maximum electric-only range of 32 miles, which is on par with what other plug-in hybrid hatchbacks with similarly-sized battery packs can cover.

The charging times being quoted by Volkswagen are also fairly respectable for a plug-in hybrid hatchback. According to Volkswagen, a 3kW charging point or a comparable wall box unit can fully recharge the batteries in around three hours and 40 minutes - or at least five hours if you plug the Golf GTE into a three-pin plug mains socket. This is reasonably quick for an electrified car using relatively low-speed charging formats such as these.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTE specs and in-car tech

While they have very different engines, the Golf GTI and Golf GTE are pretty similar when it comes to in-car tech. According to Volkswagen, both cars come as standard with equipment like a heated leather steering wheel, climate control, keyless entry and a driver assist that can help prevent the driver from veering out of their lane on motorways.

These two Golf hot hatches share some sporty interior features, too, such as the aluminium inserts on the gear lever and the tartan cloth seat trim that the GTI is famed for offering in the past. However, as a subtle nod to the GTE’s eco-friendly credentials, there’s a subtle blue hue to the cloth pattern on the plug-in hybrid’s upholstery.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTE prices and release dates

Both the GTI and GTE versions of the Volkswagen Golf are available to order now. Prices for the Golf GTI start from £33,460, whereas the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE is a little bit dearer to buy at £35,960.

 

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