For now, plug-in hybrids continue to reap the benefits of the government’s plug-in car grant of up to £5000, meaning the GTE’s £33,035 recommended price can be trimmed to £28,035 for the end user.
That makes it more than £2000 cheaper than the Audi A3 e-tron and a direct rival for something like the markedly inferior Toyota Prius Plug-in. Fully electric options such as the Nissan Leaf or Volkswagen’s own e-Golf are priced lower but obviously come with range anxiety attached.
The GTE sidesteps such issues, although its battery-only autonomy is significantly smaller than that of an e-Golf. Volkswagen quotes 31 miles, but expect to experience less in the real world. Only those with enviably short commutes (or somewhere to plug in during the day) are likely to enjoy completely combustion-free motoring in regular use.
After draining the battery completely, our True MPG testers returned a fuel economy average of 43.8mpg on internal combustion alone. Ask the petrol engine to take on recharging duties simultaneously and you can expect that to drop well below 40mpg.
However, replenish the battery from the mains – which takes just under four hours – and with considerate driving in hybrid mode, on a mix of A and B-roads the car comfortably managed the 60mpg-plus we saw in the A3 e-tron. Not the 166mpg claimed, of course, but a decent rival for turbodiesel power, away from a motorway at least.
On CO2 emissions, at 39g/km, there is no contest, making the GTE exempt from road tax and, more importantly, an extraordinarily good-value 5 percent prospect for the benefit-in-kind company car tax-paying business user. So a 20 per cent tax-paying fleet driver could be liable for less than £30 per month in benefit-in-kind, rather than, say, £70 per month on a comparable turbodiesel.
There's no three-door option, so there's only one GTE to have. Unless your range requirements are modest and very predictable, that is, in which case we'd recommend that you go the whole hog and buy the all-electric e-Golf.