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Volkswagen’s C Coupe GTE concept conceals copious tech beneath sophisticated styling

While it already owns several luxury brands, Volkswagen has made some unsuccessful attempts to move upmarket with models like the Phaeton and upscale versions of the Passat and Touareg.

The brand’s 2015 Shanghai Auto Show concept car proves VW is still at it.

The Volkswagen C Coupe GTE is a plug-in hybrid sport sedan that would slot between the Passat and Phaeton (which is still sold outside the U.S.) if it were to go into production, the carmaker says.

Exterior styling is restrained but handsome in the current VW idiom. A five-bar chrome grille melds with LED headlights at the front, and horizontal lines are the dominant styling feature, rather than curves or sharp creases.

While it does have four doors, the concept qualifies as a “coupe” because of its low roofline, just like on the production Passat-based CC and numerous other “four-door coupes.”

Underneath the segment-bending styling is the Volkswagen Group’s new MLB platform, a larger counterpart to existing the MQB platform (used by the Golf, Audi A3, and others) that will support a wide variety of large and medium-sized models in the coming years.

The GTE badge denotes a plug-in hybrid in Volkswagen-speak. This one features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission with integrated electric motor, and a 14.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

Total system output is 241 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, enough to get the C Coupe GTE from 0 to 62 mph in 8.6 seconds, and on to a top speed of 144 mph.

The concept can also drive solely on electric power for up to 31 miles, at speeds up to 81 mph.

As with many other hybrids, there are also multiple driving modes including Hybrid, all-electric E-Mode, sporty GTE, and Battery Charge/Battery Hold.

On the inside, VW seems to have borrowed a bit of Audi’s “virtual cockpit” concept, replacing the traditional gauge cluster with a 3D “Active Info Display,” which is paired with a 12.3-inch center console screen.

The Active Info Display includes a speedometer and power meter, but can also show playlists, vehicle information, and navigation maps complete with 3D landmarks.

Critical to the Chinese market, there’s also a “chauffeur mode” that displays elements of the rear passenger’s schedule on the 12.3-inch dashboard screen, and can sync with the navigation system.

Chinese customers’ penchant for being driven means plenty of attention was paid to the rear seats. Volkswagen also crammed a pair of 4.5-inch touch screens into the center console between individual bucket seats.

They’re used to adjust seat position and climate control, while 9.5-inch screens mounted in the backs of the front seats provide entertainment, along with a 600-watt Dynaudio sound system.

Even if the C Coupe GTE itself doesn’t go into production as VW’s next upscale model, its styling will likely be echoed by future production models, including the next CC and Phaeton.

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