When you talk about electric motors at VW, you usually have the new models around the ID.3 in mind. But that is too one-sided view, as an encounter with three electrified variants of the VW Golf shows.
Attention! High voltage!
Is it on? Difficult to say, maybe just give it a try. Yes, a gentle step on the gas pedal sets the new VW Golf GTE in motion gently and almost silently. Only a strange humming quietly penetrates the driver's ear - but it is actually not intended for him, but is intended to make pedestrians aware that an electric vehicle is approaching. Wait a minute, electric vehicle, isn't that the VW ID.3?
Yes and no. There is a lot of talk about the ID.3 these days, but of course VW cannot do without the billions in sales with the Golf. And so they tried to make the long-standing bread-and-butter model the best of both worlds and started an electrification offensive for the Golf.
A plug-in hybrid model under the name Golf GTE already existed in the previous generation, but it was perhaps a bit half-heartedly advised: too little sporty to wear the letter combination GT with pride, and with too little range to really make people feel to be excited about the blessings of electric driving.
Because that's the point of the plug-in hybrid. In everyday life, for example on the way to work, you drive it as consistently as possible with the current of the battery, and you only let the petrol engine help on really long journeys. In order to manage this automotive balancing act more credibly than before, the engineers opted for a larger battery pack: 13 kilowatt hours of capacity are compared to the 8,7 kWh of the predecessor, and VW now has an electric range of 62 instead of the previous 47 kilometers. More detailed tests have to show how great this value will be in everyday life, but on a first test drive the Golf GTE, which cost almost 42.000 euros, impressed with its very consistent use of the electric drive. Even with rapid acceleration up to 140 km / h, the 1,4-liter petrol engine did not switch itself on, because the new electric motor with 330 Newton meters of torque and 80 kilowatts (110 hp) of peak power can do just fine with the car. Only when the driver overcomes a resistance that can be felt in the accelerator pedal is the four-cylinder on the spot without jolts and throws another 150 hp and 250 Newton meters into the scales.
The special mathematics of hybrid drive development unfortunately prohibits the simple addition of the performance values, but the so-called system performance in the Golf GTE is at least 245 hp - VW likes to point out that the current Golf GTI no longer has to offer. In terms of torque, the GTE even exceeds the GTI by 30 Newton meters. But he also has to do with 185 kilograms more weight, of which 135 kilograms are due to the batteries.
Despite this weight disadvantage, the new Golf GTE is an impressive plug-in hybrid that is not only sporty but also very sensible on longer journeys. When the electronics regulate the flow of power and smoothly switch between the different driving modes at any time. When, thanks to the data from the navigation system, the driver is warned to take off the accelerator before speed-limited sections. If the degree of recuperation, i.e. the recovery of energy when braking and coasting, is adapted to traffic signs (e.g. town signs) - in all these situations you can see that the plug-in hybrid is not just about driving pleasure, but also about greatest possible efficiency.
If you want to live out this side of gasoline-electric mixing technology more, you might get along even better with the likewise new VW Golf eHybrid. This model costs almost 2.000 euros less than the GTE, but has the same engines under the hood. Thanks to a different software design, the e-machine does not press so much on the tube here. All in all, “only” 204 hp and 350 Newton meters are available, which still makes the Golf eHybrid a very agile vehicle, with an electric range of 80 kilometers thanks to the slightly lower demand for power.
That is stately, but the use of a plug-in hybrid demands a certain consistency from the owner: The car has to be recharged frequently in order to be able to exploit its advantages, otherwise it would simply be a very expensive full hybrid that is nothing worth mentioning in purely electrical terms has to offer. So GTE owners and future owners of a Golf eHybrid should be able to get by for three hours and 40 minutes without the car - that's how long it takes to fully charge the battery pack, provided you have a wallbox with 3,6 kilowatts of power installed. The charging time is five hours at a normal socket.
Because handling the charging cable and socket is not for everyone (and because plug-in cars are so expensive), VW also has three so-called mild hybrid variants in its range for the Golf, with outputs of 81 kW (110 PS), 96 kW (131 PS) and 110 kW (150 PS). They all drive gasoline engines alone, but an integrated belt starter generator helps them. This is a small electric motor that replaces the functions of the starter and alternator. The 48-volt motor feeds the 12-volt electrical system, starts the petrol engine and - this is what makes it so interesting - it also has the power to help the car start up. In this way, the Golf eTSI elegantly bridges the so-called turbo lag, i.e. the slight starting weakness that arises because a turbo charger always needs a short time to get up to speed. In addition, the starter generator helps the Golf eTSI to coast, so it automatically switches off the engine for a short time when the drive is evenly relaxed and also wakes it up automatically when the driver needs power again - you don't even notice it, maybe at the gas station. According to VW, the standard consumption of the most powerful eTSI with 150 PS is around ten percent below that of a comparable model without the small "e" in the name.
For a first test drive, the cheapest eTSI was available for just under 27.000 euros, powered by a 1,0-liter three-cylinder, which produced a correspondingly growling background noise. Like all electrified models, the eTSI is also equipped with a dual clutch transmission, and the belt starter generator harmonises with this type of power transmission: the VW Golf eTSI comes out of the starting blocks very well. It's not overly sporty, but it does it confidently, and it gives the driver the feeling of having developed a good driving style. Perhaps it will later become clear to the person behind the wheel that he is driving here with 110 hp - the magical performance of the very first GTI. What was the crown of (golf) creation in 1976 is still good for 202 km / h today and a casual, patronizing overall judgment: Yes, you can live with that.
VW Golf GTE - Technical data:
Five-door compact car with five seats; Length: 4,28 meters, width: 1,79 meters (width with exterior mirrors: 2,07 meters), height: 1,49 meters, wheelbase: 2,62 meters, trunk volume: 381 to 1.237 liters, empty weight: 1.624 kg
Petrol engine: 1,4-liter four-cylinder, 110 kW / 150 PS, maximum torque: 250 Nm, electric motor; 100 kW / 136 PS, maximum torque: 330 Nm, system output: 180 kW / 245 PS, 400 Nm, front-wheel drive, 0-100 km / h: 6,7 s, Vmax: 225 km / h, standard consumption according to NEDC: 1,7, 100 l / 12,4 kilometers, power consumption: 100 kWh / 2 km, CO38 emissions: 6 g / km, efficiency class: A +, emissions standard: Euro 41.667d-ISC-FCM, price: from XNUMX euros
VW Golf e-Hybrid - Technical data
Five-door compact car with five seats; Length: 4,28 meters, width: 1,79 meters (width with exterior mirrors: 2,07 meters), height: 1,49 meters, wheelbase: 2,62 meters, trunk volume: 381 to 1.237 liters, empty weight: 1.590 kg
Petrol engine: 1,4 liter four-cylinder, 110 kW / 150 PS, maximum torque: 250 Nm, electric motor; 100 kW / 136 PS, maximum torque: 330 Nm, system output: 150 kW / 205 PS, 350 Nm, front-wheel drive, 0-100 km / h: 7,4 s, Vmax: 220 km / h, standard consumption according to NEDC: 1,4, 1,2-100 l / 11,6 kilometers, power consumption: 11,0-100 kWh / 2 km, CO31 emissions: 28-39.781 g / km, efficiency class: A +, price: from XNUMX euros
VW Golf 1.0 ETSI
Five-door compact car with five seats; Length: 4,28 meters, width: 1,79 meters (width with exterior mirrors: 2,07 meters), height: 1,49 meters, wheelbase: 2,62 meters, trunk volume: 381 to 1.237 liters, empty weight: 1.302 kg
Petrol engine: 1,0 liter three-cylinder, 81 kW / 110 PS, maximum torque: 200 Nm, front-wheel drive, 0-100 km / h: not specified, Vmax: 202 km / h, standard consumption according to NEDC: 4,3 l / 100 Kilometers, CO2 emissions: 98 g / km, efficiency class: A, price: from 26.972 euros
Brief description of the VW Golf GTE
Why: Because it can be sporty and also economical
Why not: Because it's quite expensive
What else: Mercedes A250e, Kia XCeed PHEV