The first and most pertinent thing to say about the GTE’s performance is that you need to charge the battery from the mains in order to get the best from it.
That might sound obvious, but once you learn how adept the car is at recharging its electrical supply from the engine in range-extension mode, there’s a temptation to simply park it on the driveway and let the petrol engine pick up the slack next time out.
This, however, is a mistake. The extent to which Peter is robbing Paul while using this mode is evidenced by the fact that, unlike the A3 e-tron, Volkswagen conceals the rolling battery recharge function in a sub-menu on the touchscreen, not among the centre console buttons. Interestingly, only by pushing these can you access the all-electric mode, battery hold (essentially petrol engine only) and the all-action GTE mode, which we’ll come to in a minute.
This is not unreasonable; in many ways the GTE is at its most likeable when solely troubling its electric motor. But, like the Audi, the Golf tends to be at its most economical (in varied, longer-distance use) when you leave it to make the decisions about how and when to mingle its power sources.
This it does well enough to be noticeably better than the e-tron we drove last year – most likely the result of an additional few months’ worth of software updates.
Whichever mode you choose, the initial pull-away is handled electrically before the petrol engine cuts in (almost immediately if the battery is drained, not until 30-40mph if it isn’t). The result, when driven modestly, is very quiet, brisk and sleekly aloof.