Barely has the dust settled from Volkswagen’s apathetic announcement that it will not be offering the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE hatch in the US and a station wagon version of the same car has been seen in San Francisco.
Aesthetically the prototype – seen on the Golf GTE Forum – appears identical to the car we drove in Berlin earlier this year, but for the enlarged trunk that adds 8 cubic feet of cargo space to an already practical car. The aerodynamic front bumper, blue grille band, and wing-mounted model signatures are all visible.
Inside, the car is almost certainly powered by a 1.4-liter gasoline engine and a 107hp electric motor. Combined output of 204hp has seen the Golf GTE dubbed as a ‘green’ GTI, and impressive torque certainly means it feels that way under acceleration. This Golf’s real party-piece is an electric range of 31 miles, however, which in turn has meant it is rated at 188mpg combined in Europe with an overall range of 580 miles.
Volkswagen may launch a SportWagen version of the Golf GTE and not the hatch in the US to avoid over-saturating a formative market. While the German automaker has confirmed that the pure-electric e-Golf will go on sale in a handful of states at first, it seems that parent company Volkswagen Group is keen to avoid an overlap with the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, which will mechanically mirror the Golf GTE when it arrives in the US next year.
Were Volkswagen to offer the Golf GTE SportWagen in the US it would present an attractive problem for plug-in hybrid car buyers. Its blend of pace of practicality make well sway those who would otherwise gravitate towards Chevrolet’s Volt, while Volkswagen’s considerable brand appeal may pose a problem for the excellent Ford C-Max Energi.