For fans of the Volkswagen GTI, there’s hardly a spot better than Lake Worthersee in Austria for the annual conclave of owners and enthusiasts of Volkswagen’s sporty sedan. Going strong for 34 years and with attendance hitting 200,000, the event has become a place for Volkswagen to treat the faithful with a new GTI special, or perhaps a concept or two. This year’s debutants were a pair of Volkswagen GTI concepts, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport and the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport.
Of the pair, the GTI Clubsport is a preview of a coming model that will arrive on the European market for the 2016 model. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of VW’s performance compact hatchback, it has the usual suspects in modifications to the standard GTI. The laundry list includes 261 horsepower with a turbocharger overboost function that adds about ten percent more power “for a short time, increased aerodynamic downforce thanks to a new front bumper, rear spoiler, diffuser and new side sills, plus racing bucket seats and what VW refers to as “numerous exclusive equipment details.”
That’s fun but barely a high-concept concept. Leave that to the world premiere of the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport, a one-engine/two-motor plug-in hybrid with a mostly carbon-fiber body with design that, as VW puts it, catapults the GTI into the future.
It wouldn’t be a GTI—make that GTE—if it didn’t have power, and that the GTE Sport does. For the internal combustion component of its hybrid powertrain, the GTE Sport has a 1.6-liter turbocharged direct-injection engine adapted from the Volkswagen Polo R WRC. The engine, which has powered VW to two World Rally Championships, is rated at 294 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
On top of that, or at least inside the housing of the six-speed dual-clutch transmission, is a 114 horsepower electric motor with maximum torque oft 244 lb-ft. A second electric motor is located at the rear with the same power output but max torque of 199 lb-ft.
All in with all three power sources engaged, the all-wheel-drive hybrid Golf GTE Sport goes from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.3 seconds, and on to 120 mph in 15.9 seconds from standing still. Top speed is 175 mph. In the European test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles the GTE Sport manages 118 mpg, and can go up to 30 miles on battery power alone. 120 15.9
The GTE Sport operates in typical plug-in hybrid mode, running in full-electric mode until the batteries are discharged.
“When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, and the battery is sufficiently charged, all drive sources are shut off. This is referred to as “coasting”. If the driver releases the accelerator pedal or brakes, and the battery is insufficiently charged, the two electric motors operate as generators and charge the lithium-ion battery with the energy recovered from braking. With the dual mode “Battery Hold” or “Battery Charge” the battery’s energy content can be deliberately kept constant by the driver (“Hold”) or increased (“Charge”). When the 1.6 TSI engine is the sole source of propulsion, the concept car is a pure front-wheel drive car.”
Although the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport is unique from the ground up, it still suggestss the classic Golf two-box configuration marked by the predominant C-pillar. So predominant, in fact, it’s swallowing the front half of the car. The front end is low and wedgy, with sharp creases and a low and wide grille. And you want fender flares? The GTE Sport has the fender flares of your dreams.
The interior goes full concept car in what looks like what would be uncomfortable with lots of exposed carbon fiber surfaces and a shoulder-high chastity center console. But it looks cool. And it even has five-point racing harnesses. Because beyond sporty.
Alas, the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport is just a concept and you won’t see one at your local VW dealership any time soon. Just at Worthersee—you missed it this year—and wherever else VW shows it off. But will they bring it Stateside?