After the magic madness that was the Audi TT Clubsport Turbo concept and the 2016 Volkswagen GTI Clubsport, and many other clubs and sports besides, we figured VW was done with introducing new cars at its annual gathering in Worthersee. We were wrong. Enter the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport Concept.
Packing in 396 horsepower from a complex hybrid system involving a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine adapted from the Volkswagen Polo R WRC car up front, and electric motors on each axle, it may not look like the future, but it’s a sure bet that there’s plenty of future Golfs hinted at here.
I mean, no, future Golfs won’t have engines ripped out of professional rally cars, and’s a bit obvious just from the carbon fiber it’s made out of, and the wonderfully exotic gullwing doors, that this isn’t exactly a production Golf. But it’s probably hinting at the style of the next generation of the quintessential German hatch, and it shows that Volkswagen’s series not only about hybrid motors in its cars, but electric performance as well.
And after the not-really-serious effort that was the Volkswagen e-Golf, the only way is up from here.
But it’s not really the angled-and-widened-and-creased-and-lined exterior that I really care about. I mean, yeah, you should care about it as the next Golf might have thinner tail lights, I guess, but what I really care about on this GTE concept will never, ever, never, ever, evernevereverneverever in a million years see production. And that’s this ludicrous interior.
LOOK AT THAT. You don’t just so much sit in the seat as you sit in a cocooned cockpit, fit for a starfighter from the year 2760. You don’t get a steering wheel, you get a perfectly ergonomical yoke. You don’t get a speedometer, you get the numbers as presented to you by Paul Verhoeven. And, as befitting a future beast from outer space, your passenger (in their own cocoon, naturally) gets an informational readout as well.
But don’t worry, if you were concerned that the outer-space-hot-rod concept hadn’t been carried over into the seats themselves, fear no longer.
That’s not so much a seat as it is a carbon fiber shell with some foam padding smeared across it, all while you get strapped in with a quick-release five-point harness. In case the aliens get you, or something.
As befitting a fighter from the distant future, it’s got performance to match. VW says it’ll get to highway speeds in a shade over four seconds once it’s in high-performance “GTE-mode,” utilizing what they’re calling an “electric propshaft,” which is actually one of the few things in this car we’ll actually be seeing in production soon. Here, I’ll let them explain:
In “GTE-Mode” and as soon as the situation necessitates it, the drive power of the Golf GTE Sport is distributed to both axles. In this case (and if battery charge is low), the front electric motor – which is now being supplied with kinetic energy via the TSI – acts solely as a generator and a source of electricity for its counterpart at the rear axle. Since the energy for driving the rear axle flows by wire and not mechanically here, this is referred to as an “electric propshaft”. Because the TSI drives the rear electric motor via the front electric motor, the all-wheel drive system also operates when the battery’s charge state is low – an invaluable advantage in terms of driving dynamics. The importance of the implementation of the “electric propshaft” for Volkswagen with regard to series production is demonstrated by the fact that the company has had the German equivalent of this designation protected under copyright law.
The other two modes are “E-mode,” which is basically a short-range electric mode, and “Hybrid mode,” which is exactly what it sounds like, and engages the system much like any run-of-the-mill Toyota Prius would.
But you know what? I don’t care about all that. All I care about is that cockpit. Give me a base, diesel Golf, with seats that prepare me for liftoff from my space-carrier to the stars, and we’ll call it a deal.