Volkswagen arguably invented the hot hatchback with the original Golf GTI, and for the annual celebration of all things GTI at Lake Wörthersee, Austria, it’s previewing a possible next step in the evolution of the genre.
The Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport concept is part hot hatchback, part supercar. It has a plug-in hybrid powertrain like the production Golf GTE already sold in Europe, but the similarities end there.
Looking at the GTE Sport, it’s hard to believe the car is really a Golf. The sleek front end with minimal headlights has an almost alien feel. It’s just one of many features designed to aid aerodynamics.
The doors swing upwards to open, taking a chunk of the roof with them. Most of the body is made from carbon fiber to save weight.
The powertrain features a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the VW Polo R WRC rally car, and two electric motors. One motor is incorporated into the six-speed dual-clutch transmission and helps drive the front wheels, while the other is mounted in back to drive the rear wheels.
Total systems output is 395 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. That can propel the Golf GTE Sport from 0 to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds, and on to a top speed of 174 mph.
Volkswagen says the car can drive up to 31 miles solely on electric power. When operating as a hybrid, it can also “coast” with all of its power sources shut down when the driver lifts off the accelerator.
There’s also an all-in “GTE Mode” that eschews fuel economy for speed, getting as much power from both the gasoline engine and electric motors as possible.
When the battery charge is low, the gasoline engine is used as a generator to provide power for the rear electric motor, ensuring that all-wheel drive traction will be available any time the driver might need it.
The two-seat interior completely does away with practicality. Decked in carbon fiber, it places driver and passenger on opposite sides of a divider, with separate displays for each.
Instead of a traditional steering wheel, the Golf GTE Sport is controlled by a yoke-like device, and there are no conventional gauges in sight. VW created a system of three separated nested displays for the driver, moving everything into one binnacle.
That interior will look really cool on a show stand, but it’s also one of many reasons why the Golf GTE Sport will remain a concept. Still, it shows how new technology may influence future generations of VW’s iconic performance car.