Volkswagen just hit the automotive world with a hell of a one-two punch this week in Geneva. Long wanting to get into the sporty coupe game, VW has been on again, off again with various show cars. And plug in hybrids? Why hasn't one of the world's largest automakers cracked that territory in a big way yet? Volkswagen's answer: Why not do both?
Sitting in the middle of the Volkswagen show stand at this years Geneva Auto Show is a bright yellow-gold car that subconsciously cries out to its target demographic. You're young(ish) and successful, but still on the way up. You have style and flair and you're a person (although more often than not a man) that has little to no qualms about letting others know just how successful and upwardly mobile and stylish you are.
You, sir or madam, are the modern sport coupe buyer. You are the dead center bull's eye of the target in marketing offices from Munich to Detroit to Tokyo. M Coupes and Infiniti Coupes and Cadillac Coupes, those are for you. It's not that car companies are out to get you, it's that car companies already understand you.
But these days there's a new wrinkle. Suppose you're all of that, but there's now something else you are concerned about. You want to be environmentally friendly in addition to being more or less young, attractive, wealthy but getting richer and all the rest of it?
Say hello to the new automotive love of your life: The Volkswagen Sport Coupe Concept GTE.
It's got it all: Restrained yet classy Teutonic styling (both inside and out), logically thought through control layouts, comfy seats, enough power and performance to keep the "sport" in "Sport Coupe" and the cherry on top is that it's a plug-in hybrid too.
It's easy to see the VW Sport Coupe Concept GTE as a convergence of two recent Volkswagen design and engineering trends. One is Volkswagen's continued development of very fuel-efficient cars, such as the Volkswagen XL1. Although that car is packed with technological wonders, it falls a little short in the everyday practicality and versatility departments. The other trend has been sporty two-doors, or in a lot of cases, cars that look like sporty two-doors, but are actually very swoopy four-doors. In some examples, more than just sporty. A while back Volkswagen rolled out the W12 Coupe, which in many respects was sort of an R & D ancestor to the Bugatti Veyron.
So, in a rather logical, if read the tealeaves way, the Volkswagen Sport Coupe Concept GTE fits the bill both for the target market and the company itself.
VW says that the new Sport Coupe Concept GTE (even though it's flying the "it's only a concept" caveats) is "heralding a new and progressive Volkswagen design language." Which is marketing speak for, "You better like what you're seeing here in terms of headlights and body creases, because you're going to be seeing a lot of them on anything wearing a VW badge."
"This concept is based on Volkswagen design DNA, which has been visibly sharpened even more," says Walter de Silva, Head of Design of Volkswagen AG. "It shows how the highest-volume brand of our Group is shaping the immediate future."
"This breathtakingly dynamic coupe is unlike any other to appear in this class," adds Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen Brand Board Member for Development. "The design of the Sport Coupe Concept GTE is an impressive alternative to the classic sedans of the B and C segments. It has the style of a sport coupe that is enriched by the functionality of a large hatchback and the interior space of a sedan."
On the inside, the interior of VW's Sport Coupe Concept GTE aims to be as innovative as its exterior. It features an extremely clean, very Germanic design, and Volkswagen is very proud of the car's ergonomics. There are new interactive interfaces between the driver and the car that include the use of the driver's biometric data and a new Active Info Display that has a 3D appearance.
Ah, but a pretty car will only get you so far. So what's the Sport Coupe Concept GTE got under the hood?
It all starts with those three letters: GTE. The GT is easy, as in for time immemorial, that means Grand Tour, and the "E" part stands for "Electric" and that's where things get really interesting, technology-wise.
The Sport Coupe Concept GTE is a new wrinkle in VW's GTE philosophy. The impressively motorized 374-horsepower (279 kW) GTE fastback brings the long-distance assets of a traditional Gran Turismo while simultaneously facilitating zero-emission driving, thanks to its two electric motors and externally chargeable battery. The GTE Coupe tops out at 155 mph (249 km/h) but can also boast of a remarkable EC average combined fuel consumption of 118 mpg (2 l/100 km). So VW is aiming the Sport Coupe Concept GTE at being able to dust off guys in Audi A5s and let you pass by a Toyota Prius when it comes to fill-ups.
This is all thanks to the Sport Coupe Concept GTE's drive system. The concept car uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter TSI V6 direct-injection engine that cranks out 295 hp (220 kW) and produces maximum torque of 369 lb ft. The electrical workings are comprised of a lithium-ion battery that lives in the center tunnel and two electric motors. The 54-hp (40 kW) front motor is incorporated in the 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, while out back the rear electric motor develops 114 hp (85 kW). If you add that all up it comes out to a total available system power is 374 hp (279 kW).
In GTE mode, the coupe accelerates from zero to 62 mph in just 5.0 seconds. Despite this level of performance, it can be driven all-electrically, with zero local emissions, for a distance of at least 32 miles. According to VW the total driving range on a single tank of gasoline is more than 745 miles.
So really, what's not to love? Oh, right, this officially just a concept car, just a demonstration of what a company could do. Hogwash! If Volkswagen doesn't make this thing it would be a monumental mistake. Government mandated mpg figures aren't going to be getting any lower and gas prices aren't going to be getting cheaper, for one thing, and for another people still want power and refinement and driving enjoyment.
The Volkswagen Sport Coupe Concept GTE hits all of those buttons, and hits them all quite well. Volkswagen should make this car, and it should start making it as soon as possible.