Volkswagen of America has the Golf GTE Sport concept on display at the 2015 Los Angeles International Auto Show. This will be the first time for Volkswagen’s concept car to be shown in North America. The main highlight of the Golf GTE Sport is that it combines the best features of vehicles that are suited for both the road and for motorsport.
For example, its exterior and interior show it to be a sports car. The same is true of its suspension and drivetrain. However these are all offered with a plug-in hybrid system that allows for zero-emission when driving.
The Golf GTE Sport is equipped with the 1.6-liter TSI engine that is mainly based on what powered the two-time winner of the World Rally Championship, the Polo R WRC. As such, it can deliver as much as 295 horsepower with 295 pound-feet of maximum torque.
In addition, the four-cylinder engine is supported by two electric motors, with one positioned in the front part of the Golf GTE Sport and another in the back. The motor on the front generates 113 horsepower with a top torque of 243 pound-feet while the one at the rear also delivers 113 horsepower but with a peak torque of 199 pound-feet resulting in a 494 pound-feet total torque.
The car is designed to function as an electric vehicle as often as possible. When the “GTE mode” is activated, all the three motors are activated, allowing this concept car to achieve a maximum speed of 174 mph with an ability to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds. Since it also has an NEDC cycle that is standard for many plug-in hybrid cars, it returns 118 mpg of fuel economy.
The design of the Golf GTE Sport is demonstrative of how future models will be developed. One of the noticeable features of the Golf GTE Sport is the two-level C-pillar. Unlike those seen in other vehicles, the C-pillar has both excellent design and functionality.
In terms of the design, it looks like an hourglass when viewed from front to rear. However because of this, it allows the airstream to flow to the car on two levels and therefore improve the aerodynamics. It also helps cool the rear brakes. A number of the Volkswagen Group’s previous models like the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and the Volkswagen XL1 have a lightweight body due to the components being made of carbon fiber.
The same treatment was done for the Golf GTE Sport with the exterior being painted in "White Club." In addition, the two gullwing doors are also made of carbon fiber and can swing forward with the upper part of each extending to the roof. Other parts that also have the carbo fiber treatment include the caps of the door mirror, the frames of the door window, and the lower sill area.
The side sill, which is three-dimensional, has been improved with its top made with carbon fiber as well. The wheel arches meanwhile have the 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with the 235/35 tires on its front and the 275/30 tires on the back. Going to the front portion, the influence of the Golf GTE is made clear with the blue crossbar that runs across the vehicle’s width.
Under this blue strip are three black crossbars that extend through the air intake in the center. Below the crossbars though is yet another air intake that has been framed on both its top and sides with a carbon fiber element. There is also a double spoiler, in carbon fiber, on the front.
The black grille has a high gloss and it has that honeycomb structure that is standard in many models of the Volkswagen GT. The final feature of the front is its C-shaped daytime running lights in LED which frames the grille through the sides. These same lights then switch to become LED headlights.
The features on the rear are just as amazing. Because of the double C-pillars, the Golf GTE Sport gets a powerful and wide stance considering that it narrows at an angle towards the rear which then merges with its bumper.
The tailgate is recognizable as it is typical of a Golf model with the addition of a black spoiler in carbon fiber. Finally, the diffuser though exposed, combines the round tips in stainless steel for the Golf GTE Sport’s twin-pipe exhaust system.
From the exterior, we now go to the interior of the Golf GTE Sport. While it has been covered in both microfiber and carbon fiber, this concept car ensures that there are different areas when it comes to the driver and the passengers. The bucket seats have five-point belts that are attached to the car’s rear and on its steering column, enabling them to it to stick out further to the interior much like a race car.
Additionally, the steering wheel has paddle shifters that can be used for transmission. The dashboard of the Golf GTE Sport is also impressive. It has three different instrument displays, all transparent, and positioned one behind another. The smallest one is nearest the driver and displays the present status of the battery and the gear the car is currently in.
The largest display meanwhile shows the driving range and the speed. Due to its size and placement, it can always be viewed by the driver anytime. The third one is at the center and shows how much power is presently being given by the drivetrain and also shows the electric boost of its plug-in system. When the car is placed in “GTE mode,” the current lap is shown.
It also shows a virtual indicator of where the ideal driving line is. This is very helpful when it comes to ensuring fast yet safe driving especially on the racetrack. The Golf GTE Sport has three modes which are the "E-Mode", the "GTE-Mode", and the "Hybrid-Mode". What is unique about the Golf GTE Sport is that when the driver wants to change modes, the switch is located on the roof, similar to that of commercial airplanes.
A multifunction switch controls the start and stop of its hybrid drive system. This particular switch has been placed to the right side of the driver to allow for easier access. This is also where the switch that controls its dual-clutch DSG six-speed automatic transmission is positioned.
Placed next to these switches is a control panel that allows access to other vehicle functions such as its very own fire extinguisher system. On the passenger side, there are also various displays available. Under “Info Mode”, it shows the car’s present engine speed, actual speed, and even the gear.
When in “Data Mode,” it exhibits the g-force and the acceleration. Driving the Golf GTE Sport is a quiet experience. However when the “E-Mode” is used, the Golf GTE Sport gets its power only on from battery thus emission-free driving is guaranteed up to 31 miles. Once the charge on the battery reaches the minimum level, the engine automatically switches to the “Hybrid mode.”
However when the charge in the battery goes up and reaches a certain level, it can go back to the “E-Mode”. Under “E-Mode”, it is the rear motor that gives all the power. However when there is a need for high performance, the front motor can be activated in order to have more power.
Whether it is due to the driver or the drive system, once “E-Mode” has been deactivated, it turns the GTE Golf Sport into a full hybrid that uses regenerative braking in order to charge its battery. Once the accelerator pedal is released, it means that the battery has been charged and that the drive sources need to be shut off.
If the accelerator pedal is released and the battery is insufficiently charged, the two electrics will instead act as generators in order to charge the battery with the energy that has been recovered from the braking. The amount of charge in the battery is maintained by the “Battery Hold” mode and when there is a need to increase the charge, simply switch it to “Battery Charge” mode.
It goes without saying that if the engine is the sole source of the power then the Golf GTE Sport can be considered as a front-wheel drive car. However it is when the “GTE” switch is activated that the drivetrain’s character changes radically. It is in this mode that the full 395 horsepower is available.
This is because it turns on both the turbocharged gas engine and the electric drive. It is in this mode that the Golf GTE Sport can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds. When needed, the system can distribute the power to the four wheels from the electric motor in the rear and the “electric propshaft.”
Under “GTE-Mode” and when the necessary, the driver power can be distributed to the axles. What happens is that the electric motor in the front is supplied by the gas engine with kinetic energy. Thus it acts as both a source of electricity and generator for the rear electric motor.
This is also what happens when the battery charge becomes low. Going back to the situation, since the energy that drives its rear wheels are not done mechanically, this is what is known as “electric propshaft.” In addition, since it is the engine that drives the electric motor at the rear through the one in front, the all-wheel drive system becomes operational as well, improving driving dynamics.