One of the many advantages of being a guest of Volkswagen's in Germany is the wealth of interesting VWs they offer you. On our final day in Berlin I had the opportunity to drive the Golf GTE, a plug-in hybrid currently offered in Europe that’s tuned for performance and it’s actually pretty great.

Like the GTI, the GTE comes with plaid seats, but these are highlighted blue, instead of red and comes with stylized bumpers and a little slash right in front of the front doors.

Unlike the GTI, though, the GTE can take off silently, roll for 31 miles without burning a drop of gas, and gets an alleged 157 MPGe.


Anyone who’s driven an electric car will know, though, that modern electric motors aren’t just for saving fuel. These days, and Volkswagen say they’re making a special effort to accomplish this in their cars, electric motors provide gobs of torque right off the line.

The result is acceleration that pushes your head into the headrest right past where the first gear would normally end. Then, the gas engine kicks in. It’s just a small 1.4-liter inline 4, but it provides horse power up top.

The two motors combine for 201 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which gets you to 60 in a modest 7.6 seconds. Importantly, though, the car feels quick. When you kick the gas pedal, the car kicks back.


Some complain, perhaps reasonably, that though electric motors have loads of torque, they have no high-up horsepower to speak of. Because of that, the cars lose some of their goodness.

With the Golf GTE, you needn’t worry, because along with the oodles of low-down torque, you also get a nice normal engine with that up-high horse power woosh to go along with your torque.

Although the car has access to both torque and horsepower, marrying the two isn’t always as smooth as you’d like. Despite the electric motor, when you’re driving into a corner and pin it in automatic mode, you still have to wait for the DSG gearbox to make its mind up about what gear it wants to be in.


This is a problem in normal VWs with DSG, too, and can pretty much be solved by taking it out of automatic mode, which is easy, but with the electric motor, I was kind of hoping that it would take over acceleration while the gas engine figured itself out.

Sadly, that’s not the case, but it hardly matters, because this is a quick, fun car in almost every other way. It may not be as quick or engaging as the GTI, but on the other hand you get amazing fuel economy and boat loads of torque.

I’m not sure that I would choose the GTE over the R or GTI, but it is a tempting package. For now it’s irrelevant, because there are no official plans to introduce the GTE in America, but no PR person ever outright denied that a GTE could come to America and there were a lot of sly glances when the topic came up, which suggests that there’s at least a conversation happening about it.