Volkswagen Golf eHybrid
Two currents, one thought
For the photo shoot in this test, the GTE was used, as it offers a special outfit in addition to special technology. The front has even been redrawn. The headlights are connected by a blue line, while the air intake under the bumper is much larger and wider. The GTE therefore looks a lot more imposing than a standard Golf. Also note details such as brakes with red calipers (which are actually stronger than the standard brakes) and sill extensions.
As the GTE is the (semi-)electric variant of the Golf GTI, inside one will find sports seats upholstered in the traditional diamond pattern of the very first GTI. However, where a GTI uses the colour red for accents, the GTE opts for blue.
Space and equipment
Space in the eHybrid is equal to that of the Golf with conventional drive. The space in front is therefore ample. Even tall drivers can barely reach the pedals when the front seat is fully reclined! As the battery for the electric drive is placed under the rear seat, no consessions have been made to luggage space.
Whichever version it is, the Golf 8 has a downright modern dashboard. A monitor can be found behind the steering wheel and in the centre of the dashboard is a second screen. This controls almost all functions. Buttons for (quickly) adjusting the volume of the audio system or the temperature of the climate control system are subtly incorporated in the edge below the central display. In addition, several buttons can be found on the steering wheel, leaving the rest of the interior (almost) free of buttons and levers.
The advantage of using screens is that the layout is variable. Volkswagen makes full use of this. The driver can choose from several layouts, with the GTE offering an additional layout. Here, power delivery is central, as in other sporty models.
The Golf eHybrid is a plug-in hybrid, which means that propulsion can come from the electric motor, the petrol engine or a combination of both. Because the battery can be charged with a plug (5 hours at home socket, 3.5 hours at a public charging point), significant distances can be covered entirely electrically. Compared to the previous GTE, the battery has 50% more power while the physical dimensions have remained the same.
To encourage electric driving, the eHybrid (GTE) always starts in electric mode. In fact, use as an electric car is not limited to the city; up to 130 km/h, all-electric driving is possible. And because a very strong electric motor was chosen, the resemblance to the GTI is immediately obvious! Even in electric mode, the test car had wheel spin more than once when accelerating a little too enthusiastically. When both motors join forces, 245 hp / 400 Nm is available and the GTE puts in fine performances (0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, top speed 225 km). Thanks to a "sound actuator", it all sounds even more exciting than it actually is.
More important than the performance on paper, is the liveliness and eagerness with which the GTE actually performs. Indeed, the GTE is very rewarding when urged to perform and that is what cars like this are all about!
Thanks in part to a clever differential on the front axle, the GTE handles the power well, giving the superior feel that comes with sporty models. Little of the extra battery weight is noticeable when used on public roads. The optional DCC (adaptive chassis control) gives a choice of comfortable, normal or sporty character. Remarkably, the sporty setting does not make the chassis much stiffer, while it does make it easier to feel what is going on between the mechanics and the road surface. Despite its excellent roadholding and good performance, however, the GTE does not give a full GTI feel. A GTI always wants to play and is always on edge, while the GTE only shows a playful side when asked for it.
The eHybrid technology is used not only for the sporty GTE, but also for a regular version where the emphasis is on comfort and economy. Despite the technical similarities (the differences are only in software and fine tuning), the eHybrid feels like a completely different car from the GTE. The eHybrid has softer seats and, thanks to adjustable headrests, tall drivers are more comfortable (the GTE has integrated headrests). Although the equipment is less rich than that of the GTE, options allows one to get to (almost) the same level of luxury.
The eHybrid's cabin is quiet and therefore less tempting to drive fast. The result: while 62 km could be covered entirely electrically with the GTE, the standard eHybrid covered over 70 km electrically on a similar route. When the battery is empty, and a switch is made to the combustion engine, the accelerator gives a "rubber" feeling for some time. This is not a defect, but a deliberate choice because the characters of the electric motor and the petrol engine are (too) different.
All electric cars (hybrid or otherwise) convert kinetic energy into electricity during coasting or braking. However, the Golf eHybrid (including GTE) does this in a completely unique way. Based on information from the navigation system, it knows exactly when an intersection, roundabout or speed limit is approaching. At that moment, the "release the accelerator" message appears in the display and can be automatically regenerated. When entering a village, for example, the desired speed is then reached exactly at the location of the speed limit sign and maximum energy is recovered. As long as the information from the navigation system is correct, this works perfectly and is also very pleasant.
Those who dig deep into the on-board computer will also find the option to determine how much regeneration is used. However, mere minutes after choosing "strongly regenerate when accelerator pedal is released", the message that electric driving was no longer possible appeared and the test car fell back on the petrol engine. No matter how many times the menu asked for electric driving, the system kept refusing. Only by selecting automatic regeneration again could electric driving be restored.
Basically, the standard eHybrid is on the same suspension as the GTE and therefore handling is excellent. The difference is ultimately in character: the GTE is lively and rewards sporty driving, while the standard eHybrid lends itself best to a smooth, calm driving style. Whichever version is chosen, the Golf eHybrid is always noticeably lighter and more dynamic than an all-electric car.
The eighth generation of the Volkswagen Golf is now also available as an "eHybrid". This plug-in hybrid combines the best of electric drive and a conventional internal combustion engine. The eHybrid is quick, economical and quiet like an electric car, but offers the carefree range of a petrol engine.
Because alternative propulsion was taken into account from the first sketch of the Golf 8, the electronics are perfectly integrated. The hybrid drive does not come at the expense of handling or interior space.
While only one plug-in hybrid was available from the previous Golf, now there are two. In the standard eHybrid, comfort and economy take centre stage. In contrast, the GTE convinces with sportiness and dynamism, while in fact being an equally rational choice.
- Excellent handling
- Sporty yet economical
- Familiar yet progressive
- Inconvenient location charging socket
- Switching on manual regeneration results in error messages