Volkswagen might be late to the plug-in car party, launching its first plug-in vehicles some three years after Nissan, General Motors and Mitsubishi, but at this week’s Paris Motor Show, we’ll see Volkswagen launch a fifth plug-in vehicle to its rapidly-growing range of electrified vehicles: the Volkswagen Passat GTE Plug-in Hybrid.
The new plug-in will debut later this week as part of Volkswagen’s all-new 2015 Passat family, and will be available in both sedan and station wagon variants, making the Passat GTE the second plug-in hybrid station wagon to go on sale in the world.
As the name suggests, the Volkswagen Passat GTE is built around the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain found in Volkswagen’s recently-launched Golf GTE. That translates to a high-performance, 113 horsepower, 1.4-litre turbocharged stratified fuel injection gasoline engine married to an 85 kilowatt electric motor and a six-speed dual clutch gearbox capable of accelerating the car from 0-62 mph in less than 8 seconds.
Being slightly larger than the Volkswagen Golf GTE, expect the Passat GTE to be slightly slower than the 7.6 second 0-62 time given by the Golf GTE, but Volkswagen says the Passat GTE should match the Golf GTE in terms of all-electric capabilities, travelling a claimed 31 miles in electric-only mode on the European NEDC cycle. Since the NEDC cycle is known for being a little optimistic on range and economy, we’d peg that figure a little lower at somewhere between 22 and 26 miles for normal ‘real-world’ driving.
Marketed as a performance car — the GTE badge meant as the environmentally-friendly equivalent to traditionally-fuelled GTi and GTD models — the Passat GTE is capable of a top speed of 80 mph in all-electric mode, but can go on to top 136 mph where legally allowed. While that’s hardly relevant to most car buyers in most countries, that figure will be welcomed by German commuters who enjoy driving on Germany’s sections of unrestricted Autobahn, where no formal speed limits mean speeds in excess of 100 mph are common and legal.
Like the Golf GTE, the Passat GTE will come with four main modes: EMode, Hybrid, Battery Charge, and GTE. As the name might suggest, EMode is the name given to all-electric operation. Set as default when the car switches on, EMode relies only on the electric motor and battery pack. In Hybrid mode meanwhile, the car switches automatically between gasoline and electric propulsion for the best blend of power and efficiency, making it ideal for use on longer-distance trips.
Battery Charge mode allows the driver to not only hold the state of charge of the car’s battery when on the freeway, but also slowly charges it back up, making it useful for long trips with zero emissions zones or city driving at either end. Finally, GTE mode operates both drivetrains in parallel mode for maximum power and performance. It is in this mode that the Passat GTE is capable of its sub 8-second 0-62 mph time.
When it comes to charging, Volkswagen says the Passat GTE will charge form a 240-volt power outlet at ten amps from empty to full in four hours and 15 minutes, while a more powerful charge from an electric vehicle charging station at 16 amps (3.6 kilowatts) occurs in just two hours and thirty minutes.
Like most other plug-in hybrids then, the Passat GTE is best suited to someone who spends most of their week driving a regular sub 30-mile work commute, but needs a longer-distance car for the weekend. There’s no rapid charging capabilities though, so be aware that in order to get the claimed 141 mpg (imperial) fuel economy Volkswagen quotes, you’ll need to account for extra time to recharge in order to hit the 2/3 electric, 1/3 gasoline cycle used to calculate that figure.
As long as you don’t mind dropping your overall fuel economy however, Volkswagen says the Passat GTE will travel more than 620 miles on a full 50 litre tank of gasoline plus a fully-charged 8.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
Pricing hasn’t been set yet, although Volkswagen promises deliveries in the UK this time next year, with order books due to open next summer. With a full compliment of advanced technology features, including driver alert system, post-collision braking system, front assist with city emergency braking, park pilot and on-board telematics, the Passat GTE won’t be Nissan LEAF money, but we’re confident both sedan and station wagon variants will come in somewhere in the £29,000-£35,000 price bracket, making it more appealing than the larger and more expensive Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid wagon.
What do you think of the Volkswagen Passat GTE? Do you think it will have a market in Europe? What about the U.S.? (note: VW hasn’t confirmed this model for the U.S. yet)
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.