VW Tiguan GTE Active Concept makes its debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show

Article by Christian A., on January 12, 2016

Attendees to the 2016 North American International Auto Show are in for a treat, because Volkswagen has unveiled a brand-new SUV during the event. This is the Tiguan GTE Active Concept, which features a dual-motor hybrid system coupled with a gas-powered conventional engine.

This means that the new GTE Active Concept features not just one, but two electric motors! In addition, the new Tiguan SUV features a push button start up system, and a four-wheel drive, which ensures excellent performance even in off-road conditions.

After debuting in the NAIAS, the GTE Active Concept is due to hit dealerships in the United States next year. According to Volkswagen, it will be the first of a line of new vehicles that will be introduced into various markets including North America.

Car aficionados will definitely love the new Tiguan Active GTE Concept, as it features several new and innovative features developed specifically by Volkswagen to take advantage of the possibilities of the plug-in hybrid system, with the second-generation Tiguan forming a base for the research and development of the new SUV.

It even has optional seven-seat functionality! One of the innovations introduced in the SUV is the use of the Modular Transverse Matrix, as well as a four-wheel drive that engages only when circumstances dictate the necessity.

Losing traction, for instance, will force the front wheels to be activated. Of course, the driver himself has manual cover over the four-wheel drive. In addition, thanks to the dual-motor electric powertrain, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept can cruise up to 20 miles on pure electric power.

This can be extended by a fully-loaded fuel tank to 580 miles! Total battery capacity is at 12.4 kWh. The fuel tank, on the other hand, can take in 16.9 gallons.

Exterior Design

Because it is based on the proprietary modular transverse matrix, or MQB, it shares the dimensions of other vehicles designed with the matrix. The wheelbase measures 105.6 inches, a hallmark of the MQB architecture. Other dimensions are: length of 176.9 inches, width of 74.8 inches and a height of 69.5 inches.

The concept was designed with off-road use in mind and the designers and engineers involved in the Tiguan GTE Active Concept simply took cues from the existing second-generation Tiguan. To adapt the design to off-road conditions, the engineers and designers first raised the distance between the ground and the axles to 8.9 inches.

Total clearance from the ground to the underbelly of the new concept car is 9.6 inches, compared to the original Tiguan’s 7.9 inches. The approach and departure angles have also been enhanced, with front angles now at 26.1 degrees while the rear is now at 29.9 degrees. Maximum ramp angles were also increased to 24.7 degrees.

The body itself has been redesigned to make the car ideal for off-road conditions. Designers have equipped the concept car with a solid front skid plate, as well as an aluminum shield that helps protect against off-road elements like rocks and outcroppings. Since the front bumper takes in the brunt of off-road contacts, “Dark Graphite” durable polymer is used in its trim.

Vehicles breaking down in off-road conditions are a common occurrence and thus the Tiguan TGE Active Concept is equipped to become the Good Samaritan to other vehicles. The front air intakes can be used to hook up towing cables to another vehicle’s rear part, thanks to metal hooks that have been added to their design.

C-shaped LED Daytime Running lights are used in conjunction with the standard LEG headlights, a feature that people can expect from future hybrid vehicles from Volkswagen. The roof section is also equipped with a dark all-terrain module that integrates high-strength cross-rails that can serve as a base support for skis or other equipment.

They are made of aluminum that contrasts with the black roof. At the front, the roof also has two LED auxiliary spotlights, which are framed in matte aluminum. The rear portion is also reinforced against off-road hazards as well, featuring a matte aluminum guard as well, just like the front end.

An all-terrain trim is employed in the rear bumper and protects it the same way the front all-terrain trim protects the front bumper. Just like the front air intakes, the rear portion also features metal hooks to which towing cables can be attached to. This is useful for towing vehicles from the rear, or to pull away large obstacles.

Interior Design

To maintain continuity in its visuals, the interiors of the new Tiguan GTE Active Concept are designed to keep up with the exterior. For instance, the instrumental panel and door trims are constructed using the same materials in the roof and in the underbody guards for the front and rear panels of the exterior.

The steering wheel even features a dark chrome accent! The leather passenger and driver seats also feature a unique color theme that brings together Nappa leather upholstery, and complementing bright and dark accents for certain parts of the seat surfaces.

The seats even have embossed rhomboid shapes as an additional aesthetic appeal. Of course, the latest in technologies can be found inside the new Tiguan TGE Active Concept. The driver has access to an Active Info Display right in front of him.

The interface, as is the norm these days, is through a large touchscreen through which you can access several modes, including climate controls. From this touchscreen, you can do various stuff like adjusting the seat heating, and many others.


The drivetrain needs to be looked at in detail. The engine employs direct-injection TSI technology, and is capable of producing a total horsepower of 148 on its own. This power is distributed with 114 hp going to the real wheels, while the front produces 54 hp. With the two electric motors’ output, the hybrid system projects a horsepower rating of 221 hp cumulatively. What does this translate to? This simply means that there is enough power in the 4-wheel drive to ensure optimal performance and safety in both off-road and normal road conditions.

The hybrid drive is designed to specifically boost the car’s driving range, a testament to which is its exceptional 580-mile range when using both the electric and gasoline motors. The electric drivers are powered specifically by a powerful 12.4 kWh Li-Ion battery. The gasoline engine acts not only as a secondary propulsion system but also as a mobile charging mechanism – as long as the gasoline engine is engaged, the electric motors can be charged while running.

Of course, it can also be charged via an external power source. The dual-motor system is also designed to work to be energy efficient. The rear module drives the car by default, provided that it has enough power. The driver has manual control over when to activate the front electric motor, but it can also be engaged when the system detects loss of traction. This system makes possible an all-electric driving range of 20 miles, and a top speed of 70 miles per hour using the battery only.

That translates to 20 miles of savings on gasoline, and runs on virtually zero carbon emissions. As for the TSI Engine, it is activated when there is not enough power in the rear or primary electric motor for the SUV to function sufficiently especially in off-road conditions. This mode is called the Hybrid mode, and engages all three main components of the drivetrain. This mode also activates what Volkswagen describes as the electric driveshaft.

This system makes use of wires to transfer energy to the rear axle from the front electric motor instead of its mechanical components. The SUV is smart enough to be able to decide in Hybrid mode when to use the TSI engine alone, or in conjunction with one or both electric motors. The SUV features the new 4Motion Active Control system, which basically allows the driver to configure the car to run in one out of six programs. Each program corresponds to specific environmental conditions, and can be selected using a rotary switch found in the center part of the dashboard console.

Turning the switch to the left will allow the driver to select either On-Road, Sport, Snow, Charge or Battery Hold modes. The right side, on the other hand, has the four off-road options. These modes are designed to make the car safe to drive in the environmental conditions that the programs are designed for. For instance, the snow and off-road programs optimize the handling of the Tiguan GTE Active Concept in rough roads and snowy conditions.

Press Release


The Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept makes its world debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), in the country that popularized the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV). The vehicle's most striking innovation is its efficient plug-in hybrid system that uses two electric motors and a gasoline engine, which can supply all four wheels with power, either automatically or at the push of a button. This concept proves how much potential plug-in hybrid systems have. The all-wheel-drive system's technology ensures that this SUV can offer supreme off-road performance, even in all-electric mode.

The five-seat concept is based on the completely redeveloped second-generation Tiguan. The GTE Active Concept reflects the great technical versatility of the new SUV, which will arrive to the U.S. market in 2017 with a longer wheelbase and available seven-seat functionality. For Volkswagen, the new Tiguan marks the kickoff of an SUV product offensive that will significantly expand the range of vehicles offered, especially in North America.

The concept car starts every journey in all-electric E-mode as a zero emissions vehicle. Normally, the rear wheels are driven, but if there is loss of traction, the front wheels are engaged within fractions of a second. Four-wheel-drive is also activated when the driver selects 4MOTION® Active Control or when GTE-mode is selected, for instance. The vehicle can cover up to 20 miles in all-electric mode. The driving range, based on a battery capacity of 12.4 kWh and a 16.9-gallon fuel tank, is 580 miles.

Volkswagen has configured the design, packaging and technical features of the SUV to be as innovative as its plug-in hybrid drive system. The Tiguan is the first SUV to be based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB), and demonstrates intelligent space utilization. The GTE Active Concept projects an authentic off-road look and makes a powerful impression with its stylish, taut proportions.

Moreover, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept is also equipped with safety systems such as Front Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking and pedestrian monitoring, an active hood for pedestrian protection, Lane Assist and the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Another highlight of the concept car is its infotainment system: the Tiguan GTE Active Concept features the top level of the latest generation infotainment systems and is equipped with a 9.2-inch touchscreen, gesture control (implemented for the first time in this class), an Active Info Display (fully digital instruments) and a head-up display.

The Tiguan GTE Active Concept is equipped with a turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® gasoline engine that produces 148 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, mated to two electric motors. These make 54 hp at the front wheels and 114 hp at the rear. The total system power of 221 hp can supply all four wheels with propulsive force under off-road conditions and the 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system also boosts traction and contributes to active safety on normal pavement.

The Tiguan GTE Active Concept uses a 6-speed dual-clutch (DSG®) automatic transmission that was specially designed for hybrid use, with the front electric motor being housed inside the casing. Other plug-in hybrid components of the 4MOTION plug-in hybrid drive include: a 12.4 kWh lithium-ion high-voltage battery that can be charged either externally or via the gasoline engine; power electronics for the front motor; a second module at the rear that converts the battery's DC current into AC for the electric motors; and an on-board charger.

Depending on the driving mode, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept can be driven by the front, rear, or by all four wheels. As a default, the concept car always starts off in zero emissions E-mode. If the battery is sufficiently charged, the rear electric motor powers the car by itself, while the TSI engine and the front electric motor are decoupled from the drivetrain and shut off to save energy. However, as soon as the driving situation demands it, or the driver manually activates a related mode, the front electric motor is engaged within fractions of a second. This means the Tiguan GTE Active Concept is a zero-emissions all-wheel-drive vehicle that can cover up to 20 miles on battery power alone. In E-mode, the Tiguan has a top speed of 70 mph.

If the battery isn't sufficiently charged and the system calls for the rear electric motor to be supplied with power for dynamic handling or for the Off-road program, the TSI engine is re-started and engaged (Hybrid mode). In this case, the front electric motor serves as a generator for the rear electric motor. Since the energy for driving the rear axle flows "by wire" and not mechanically, this is called an "electric driveshaft". In Hybrid mode, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept may automatically use the TSI engine and/or the electric motors, depending on the energy level of the battery.

The rotary/push-button switch for the new 4MOTION Active Control unit is located on the center console. The driver can use this control to select one of six driving programs: On road (Comfort or Eco); Offroad (Rocks, Sludge & Sand, or Gravel); Sport; Snow; Charge (battery is charged while driving); and Battery Hold (maintains a constant battery charge). When the Tiguan driver turns the switch to the left, the On-road, Sport, Snow, Charge or Battery Hold programs can be activated. When the switch is turned to the right, the user can access the Off-road programs. In off-road duty, the 4MOTION Active Control can adapt the assistance systems to the given driving situation within seconds, an added safety benefit. The same applies to the Snow program, which optimizes safety in winter road conditions.

Drive modes: The E-mode and GTE mode are activated by separate buttons on the center console. When the driver presses the E-mode or the GTE-mode button a second time, the car switches back to Hybrid mode. As mentioned, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept may operate with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive in Hybrid mode and in E-mode. In the sporty GTE mode, the car automatically switches to all-wheel drive.

The GTE mode is unique to plug-in hybrid Volkswagen vehicles. The transmission, accelerator pedal, engine mapping, and steering settings are sportier and the TSI engine and the electric motors work together (in kickdown/boosting) to allow the full system power of 221 hp to be available. When this happens, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept has a top speed of 120 mph and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Depending on the given driving situation, the system may use the TSI engine only or switch over to the additional "Coasting" or "Regenerative braking" hybrid modes.

 Coasting function. As soon as the driver takes their foot off the accelerator pedal, the engine and all motors are shut down and disengaged from the drivetrain, provided that the battery is sufficiently charged. This is known as "Coasting".
 Regenerative braking. When the driver takes their foot off the accelerator pedal or brake and the battery is insufficiently charged, both electric motors work as generators and feed the energy generated during braking into the battery. In this case, the TSI engine is shut off and disengaged.
 Driving with the TSI engine. When the gasoline engine alone is powering the vehicle, only the front wheels are driven.

Exterior Design
The second-generation Tiguan is based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) and shares the same long wheelbase, short overhangs, and exceptional packaging of other vehicles based on this architecture. The Tiguan GTE Active Concept is 176.9 inches long, 74.8 inches wide, 69.5 inches tall, and has a wheelbase of 105.6 inches.

The team of designers and engineers responsible for the Dragon Red Metallic concept car developed it for extreme off-road use, building on an excellent base with the existing production vehicle. For instance, ground clearance under the axles increased from 7.1 to 8.9 inches and the maximum ground clearance under the body increased from 7.9 to 9.6 inches. The approach and departure angles were improved from 25.6 to 26.1 degrees at the front and from 24.7 to 29.9 degrees at the rear. The maximum ramp angle for overcoming road bumps grew from 20 to 24.7 degrees.

Among the changes on the concept, there is a sturdy front skid plate that makes it clear that the Tiguan GTE Active Concept is designed for off-road excursions. The matte aluminum shield is equipped with four solid black polymer protectors which guard against contact with stones and bushes and can be easily replaced after an extreme trip through the outback. The front bumper is also trimmed in an all-terrain element made of "Dark Graphite" (matte anthracite-gray) durable polymer.

If the Tiguan GTE Active Concept is needed to pull another vehicle in reverse, there are two aluminum-colored metal hooks in the front air intakes on the left and right sides. The standard LED headlights are complemented by C-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights, a signature of all Volkswagen plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. One sophisticated design element is the lateral continuation of the upper and lower bars of the radiator grille to the headlights, forming a single, wide and powerful unit.

The roof section is also equipped with a dark all-terrain module that integrates high-strength cross-rails that can serve as a base support for skis or other equipment. They are made of aluminum that contrasts with the black roof. At the front, the roof also has two LED auxiliary spotlights, which are framed in matte aluminum.

On the sides, the interplay of the all-terrain body elements and the distinctively profiled off-road tires clearly identify the Tiguan GTE Active Concept as an off-road vehicle. The 245/70 16-inch tires offer optimal traction on slippery surfaces due to their aggressive tread pattern. The Tiguan GTE Active Concept's powerful presence is enhanced by "Dark Graphite" wheelarch extensions and sill protection that have been specially developed for the concept car. These sill trim pieces are protected by underbody guard elements made of matte aluminum.

The rear of the Tiguan GTE Active Concept is also equipped with a solid underbody guard made of matte aluminum. Like the front end, four replaceable polymer protectors are used here as well. The lower area of the bumper is protected by anthracite colored all-terrain trim. Above this, the outside of the bumper is also trimmed in anodized anthracite-colored trim strips. The vehicle has two additional solid aluminum-colored metal hooks at the back for towing stuck vehicles or for removing obstacles that are blocking the trail.

Interior Design
The design team also customized the interior space of the Tiguan GTE Active Concept to coordinate with the all-terrain exterior. For instance, the trim strips of brushed, dark aluminum ("Blade" design) that wrap around the instrument panel and door trim panels match the materials used for the front and rear underbody guards and for the roof components. In addition, dark chrome ("Black Night") accents on the steering wheel create a connection to the exterior design.

Meanwhile, fine "Dragon Red" strips in the air vent frames repeat the color of the exterior paint. Another new design element is the two-tone Nappa leather upholstery: The seat surfaces, armrests and door inserts are all upholstered in bright "Rhodium Grey", with "Dark Graphite" used for the side surfaces and seatbacks (outer surfaces). The leather surfaces have a three-dimensional pattern of rhomboidal shapes that transition in size from small to large, with the large rhomboids being embossed deeper and the smaller ones barely perceptible.

The visually dominant technology inside the Tiguan GTE Active Concept is the digital Active Info Display (in front of the driver) and the newly developed, next-generation infotainment system. Directly beneath its large touchscreen—which can also be operated by gesture control—is the center console that houses the climate controls. All of the controls, even for the seat heaters, are designed as touch sliders. The center console itself is dominated by the high position of the gear shifter with an array of control buttons arranged around it, including the multifunction switch for the new 4MOTION Active Control.

Next-generation infotainment system. The top level next-generation modular infotainment platform (MIB) is also featured on the Tiguan GTE Active Concept. Two exceptional features of this system are a large 9.2-inch high-resolution touchscreen (1,280 x 640 pixels) and gesture control functionality. All functions and displays utilize a sophisticated screen surface that is as clear as glass; facing the driver on the left are four sensor buttons (Menu, Home, On/Off and Volume). The 8.2-inch wide and 4.1-inch tall home screen consists of a large main window and two configurable tiles (positioned on the right side on the home screen), each of which is 1.7 inches tall and 2.3 inches wide. They can be filled with ten different types of content, such as Media (including song/album cover information) or Phone (including an image of the person to whom you are talking). In addition, it is possible to use the entire surface of the home screen for one function—for example, to show the navigation map in large format, to show special instruments for the Off-road program (steering angle, compass, altitude indicator) or to show, via Car-Net® App-Connect, the smartphone apps for Mirror Link™, Android Auto™ or Apple CarPlay®.

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