Visually, Volkswagen has deposited the GTE somewhere between an e-Golf and the GTI.

The new model has the same C-shaped LED daytime running lights as the all-electric battery-powered Golf and shares the marine blue accents that have long been the declared colour scheme of Volkswagen’s e-mobility marketing push. On the GTE, though, they replace exactly the red motif used on the GTI, and the hybrid shares that car’s horizontal fins in the bumper. A small facelift in 2017, saw the GTE left relatively untouched with new LED lights at the front and rear, a new plush infotainment system and new bumpers.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
Putting the recharging socket on the front of the car is daft. The last thing any of us need are more silent cars reversing out of parking spaces. Sounds piffling, except it isn't

The GTE appears lower and leaner than a standard Golf, too. It’s an advantage of the sports suspension that lowers it by around 10mm, and the 18in alloy wheels – an inch larger than the ones with which Audi chose to supply the A3 e-tron.

Underneath, however, the two cars are virtually indistinguishable. The GTE gets the same 148bhp 1.4 TSI petrol engine, which drives the front wheels in conjunction with a 101bhp electric motor built into the same housing as that used by the bespoke six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

As with the e-tron, this means that even when running on battery power alone, the car still drives through its six ratios, and will do so up to a speed of around 80mph.

The timing of the petrol engine’s introduction depends on which of the five operating modes is selected, although the car is almost always tow-started by the electric motor via a secondary clutch that closes when the petrol engine is up to speed.

Despite including an intentionally sporty and mechanically collaborative ‘GTE’ setting that didn’t feature on the A3 e-tron, the Golf produces the same combined outputs of 201bhp and 258lb ft. Nevertheless, the latter figure is still equivalent to the peak torque value claimed for the current GTI, while the outright power is slightly superior to that of the GTD.

Predictably, though, the GTE has the same weight problem as the A3 e-tron. Unlike many previous hybrids, the MQB platform allows the 8.8kWh battery to be stowed under the rear seats rather than all the way back under the boot floor (although that’s still where the petrol tank is relocated), but it’s still 120kg of additional mass no matter where it’s located.

Together with the rest of the required tech, that makes the claimed 1599kg unladen kerb weight a slender owner away from being 300kg heavier than the Golf GTI

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