The VW Golf GTE: A Sporty, Plug-In Hybrid Hatchback

Video screen capture. Fully Charged

30+ miles of electric range, and then you can fill it full of gas when you need to.

"This is a driver's car," says Jonny Smith.

And that's important, because he's talking about a plug-in hybrid hatchback that can do just over 30 miles of range on electric alone, and 580 miles on a full tank of gas. When car makers begin to offer a broader range of vehicles for a broader audience of consumers, and yet are capable of meeting most people's day-to-day needs on electric alone, I do think that the electrification of transport will pick up much faster than anyone can imagine.

From a suspension that's "just damped" right to a 0-62mph of 7.6 seconds, Jonny has lots of car-guy, car-journalist things to say about it. I can't say I personally care all that much about any of those things, but I do care that he drove 100 miles and got 60 miles per gallon (mpg). Of course, Jonny also points out that diesels have been getting 60 mpg for some time, so is this really any progress? But the thing about plug-in hybrids with 30+ miles of range —as I have discovered from my experiences with the plug-in Pacifica—is that most days, most of the time, the engine won't start up at all. And that's a pretty big deal.

Oh, and soon, if you order the car with GPS navigation, it will have "Predictive Hybrid Strategy," which uses its knowledge of topography, road styles and your predicted route to manage battery modes for optimal efficiency, including conserving some battery power if you're headed into an urban environment.

It's also interesting to hear Jonny say that VW really doesn't like people to talk about their diesel cars anymore. They are moving firmly away from diesel for good (can't think why). And by 2020, their electrification strategy will kick into full gear. But cars like this are helping move us in that direction already.

In terms of price, MSN says that the base model costs £28,150 after the government’s £2,500 plug-in car grant, which is actually £3,420 less than its predecessor. I'm afraid I can't give you a price for US sales because, as yet, it's not available for sale over here (the fully electric e-Golf is), although rumor has it that could change.

In the meantime, one more important thing to note: Jonny is right about the power up tone sounding like Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus.

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