Volkswagen Golf GTE (2015-2020) Review
The green VW Golf GTE can run on electric power, but has a petrol engine for long-distance journeys
Strengths & weaknesses
- Useful electric-only range of up to 30 miles
- Smooth hybrid system delivers good fuel economy
- Potential for company car tax savings
- Sales suspended until Spring 2019
- Expensive, especially now there is no grant
- Noticeably heavier than a diesel or petrol
You can buy a petrol or diesel VW Golf that can be refuelled in a minute or two and travel hundreds of miles before needing to stop again. But fuel is expensive and the exhaust emissions environmentally unfriendly.
You can also buy an electric e-Golf. Charging up is cheap and there are no exhaust emissions. But it takes hours to recharge, and you’ll need to stop again after about 130 miles.
Is the solution, then, a car like the VW Golf GTE? In theory, this plug-in hybrid car blends the best bits of both technologies. It has a petrol engine and battery-powered electric motor, which means it can potter about at low speeds without using a drop of fuel, for up to 30 miles, or drive from London to Leeds and back again before the another tank of petrol is needed
It sounds like the ideal solution but comes at a cost - from £31,100. That’s twice the price of the cheapest petrol Golf, although you could buy a used example, dating back to as far as 2015, and pay half that sum. And there’s another problem: it won’t be back on sale until Spring, 2019, says Volkswagen, as sales had to be suspended to meet demand across Europe, and then satisfy new emissions testing regulations.
However, the financial savings could be considerable - particularly if you are liable to company car tax, which is based on CO2 emissions. The Golf GTE has an average emissions figure of 39g/km CO2, which means it could save drivers hundreds of pounds a year, and it is exempt from road tax.
Unfortunately, once it is back on sale, it will no longer qualify for a £2,500 government grant for the first owner, after the government ended grants for plug-in hybrid cars from 9 November 2018.
Even so, the fuel savings may still make this a tempting proposition. For those who make mostly short journeys and are able to charge the GTE’s battery at home or at work, within little more than two hours it will be recharged and ready to run for up to 30 miles without using a drop of petrol.
The official fuel economy figure of 166mpg is fairly meaningless because it all depends on how you use your car. Like the similar Audi A3 e-tron and the plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius, the Golf GTE is less efficient over long journeys because it will mostly use the petrol engine and has to drag round a heavy battery - in that case, the mpg figure would actually be slightly worse than a conventional 1.4-litre petrol Golf.
The Golf GTE isn’t quite as smooth over bumps as the conventional Golf, but it’s still comfortable and quiet - especially when it’s running on electric power. If you push the accelerator hard, the electric motor and engine will combine to deliver a maximum power and fast acceleration.
Inside, the layout is identical to the rest of the Golf range, with a straightforward dashboard, solid feel and spacious interior, but the electric motor at the back reduces the capacity of the boot from a useful 380 litres to a tight 272 litres.
Most drivers won’t be able to justify the £31,100 price, but for those who can – notably company car users - it’s likely to prove the ideal compromise between an electric car and a petrol or diesel-powered car.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot size||272 litres|
Best Volkswagen Golf GTE for...
Best for Economy – VW Golf GTE
While the MPG is officially the same no matter which GTE you choose, the ‘GTE’ specification is at least cheaper to buy
Best for Families – VW Golf GTE Advance
Families will love the tech that the Advance specification offers - including sat-nav and heated seats
- April 2015 The First VW Golf GTE cars arrive in Britain
- April 2017 Facelifted Golf GTE goes on sale, with new Advance trim level
Understanding Volkswagen Golf GTE names
There are only two trim levels, GTE and GTE Advance, the latter of which is more expensive and adds extra equipment, larger wheels, tinted glass and heated front seats.
Engine 1.4 TSI 204PS
The one engine available uses petrol, indicated by the initials TSI. Its size is shown in litres (1.4), along with the horsepower, which can also be written as PS.
DSG indicates that the car has an automatic gearbox.
Volkswagen Golf GTE Engines
1.4 TSI with electric motor
There’s just one engine available in the Golf GTE, a plug-in hybrid unit that combines Volkswagen’s very good 1.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with a 102 horsepower electric motor.
When you’re accelerating hard, both power units combine to generate 204 horsepower, allowing for brisk acceleration; it can zip from rapidly 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.
Running solely on electric power, the Golf GTE has a range of 31 miles, although heavy acceleration and higher speeds will decrease this. You can choose to use the petrol engine for part of your journey and save the charge for when you’re in town, for example. Or you can use the petrol engine as a generator, and recharge the battery while driving. However, this will impact on the fuel economy.
When drained, the battery can be charged in around 3.75 hours from a domestic socket, or 2.25 hours from a specialist fast charger.
1.4 TSI 204 PS 6-speed DSG
Volkswagen Golf GTE Trims
GTE, GTE Advance
The GTE has a similar level of equipment to the Volkswagen Golf GT trim level. This means that standard features include two-zone air conditioning that allows each front seat passenger to set a temperature for their side of the car, sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, DAB digital radio, a 8in dashboard touchscreen, wireless Bluetooth phone connection, 17in alloy wheels, bright LED headlights and adaptive cruise control that keeps the car a set distance from the one in front.
You can also download the Car-Net remote app to your smartphone, which enables you to start and stop the car charging remotely, as well as heat or cool it before you get in.
The Advance trim adds 18 inch alloy wheels, headlight washers, heated windscreen washers, heated front seats, tinted rear glass and a sat nav system.
Optional extras include the likes of leather upholstery, full-length sunroof, a rear view camera and self-parking function, dynamic chassis control and various active safety systems.
Volkswagen Golf GTE Reliability and warranty
The petrol and diesel versions of the VW Golf are well regarded by owners and the car was ranked a high 27th out of 150 in this year’s Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It was less impressive when scored only on reliability, where it finished 105th.
The battery in the car is covered for any manufacturing or material defects up to eight years or 99,000 miles - whichever comes first. The rest of the car has a standard three years or 60,000 miles of cover.
Used Volkswagen Golf GTE
The Golf GTE plug-in hybrid might sound like a new concept but it has been on sale since 2015.
Early models were available as GTE or GTE Nav models. The GTE had two-zone air conditioning, that allows each front seat passenger to set a temperature for their side of the car, sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, DAB digital radio, a 5.8in dashboard touchscreen, wireless Bluetooth phone connection, 18in alloy wheels, bright LED headlights and adaptive cruise control that keeps the car a set distance from the one in front.
The Nav trim added, as the name suggests, sat-nav, controlled from a larger 8in dashboard screen, a 64GB hard drive for music and Car-Net App-Connect, which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
The car was facelifted in 2017, with updated GTE and GTE Advance models going on sale from April.
|VW Golf GTE: used car prices||1 year old||2 years old||3 years old|
Best for economy VW Golf GTE
Best for families VW Golf GTE Advance
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