Volkswagen has used the annual GTi festival at Worthersee to reveal the carbon-bodied and hybrid-powered Golf GTE Sport. With a history of outlandish concepts at Worthersee, the sharply-styled concept presents a more likely look at the future direction VW is taking with its GT performance brand.
Under the GTE's square-edged bonnet lies a motorsport-derived powertrain, with 220 kW (295 hp) and 400 Nm of petrol power supplied by the front mounted 1.6-liter turbocharged motor from Volkswagen's Polo R WRC. This is supplemented by two electric motors, the first of which is mounted inside the six-speed gearbox housing and produces 80 kW (107 hp) and 330 Nm of torque. The second is mounted on the rear axle, and produces the same 80 kW (107 hp) as the front motor, with 60 Nm less torque.
Unlike many performance hybrids, Volkswagen's GTE Sport doesn't just treat the electric motors as boost for the petrol engine – instead, the car is set up to use electric power at every opportunity for lower emissions and lower fuel consumption, which is put at 2.0 l/100km (118 mpg). In GTE Mode the car does take advantage of all three motors for maximum performance, hitting 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph).
There are three drive modes available, each offering a different combination of electric and petrol power. E-Mode is, as you'd expect, made up of only electric power, and offers 50 km (31 miles) of range without firing the rally motor. GTE Mode is the sportiest option, and takes advantage of all three motors for maximum acceleration. Hybrid mode automatically decides where the power comes from.
The Golf GTE's interior also showcases Volkswagen's vision for the driver-focused cabin of the future. It borrows the XL1's gullwing doors for easy entry, and the driver and passenger sit in separate areas, each adorned by race buckets with five point harnesses, with carbon fiber and microfiber the dominant materials throughout.
To effectively deliver information about the hybrid powertrain, speed and racetrack to the driver, the GTE Sport's instrument cluster is set up in three tiers. The closest display to the driver is the smallest and shows infrequently checked information about gear position and energy recuperation, while the middle tier shows more complex information about energy recuperation and boost intensity. The third display is the largest, and shows information about speed or, if the car is in GTE Mode, the ideal racing line.
Ergonomically, the cabin has been designed so everything falls easily to hand, including the drive mode switch which is roof-mounted for a fighter-jet feel.
On the outside, VW has taken the Golf's famous profile and made it much more aggressive, with carbon fiber bodywork that includes lovely details like integrated vents in the c-pillars. Up front, the blue grille from the production Golf GTE has been adapted to fit the concept's striking styling, while an aggressive double splitter gives the car a proper motorsport look. At the rear, a massive diffuser is the dominant feature, although the car's "floating" rear wing also does a good job of grabbing your attention.
The Golf GTE Sport is only a concept, but it almost certainly provides a clear indication of where VW plans on taking its incredibly successful GTi nameplate next.