What is it?
The new Volkswagen Golf Plug-in Hybrid is the result of what the German car maker describes as its most ambitious new model project to date – bigger in scale and funding than any existing petrol or diesel engine model.
By adopting elements of the less-advanced hybrid system used by the American-market Jetta Hybrid in combination with its latest in plug-in know-how, Volkswagen has created the first series production petrol-electric Golf with an impressive blend of performance and economy, including the ability to operate purely on electricity for a worthwhile distance.
It is propelled by a transversely mounted 148bhp 1.4-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine and a 107bhp electric motor that sits within the forward section of the gearbox – a combination also used by Audi in its recently unveiled A3 e-tron.
Drive is channelled to the front wheels through a specially adapted six-speed dual clutch gearbox. Among the developments is a decoupling mechanism to permit drag free coasting. Volkswagen considers this a more efficient use of kinetic energy than the recuperation systems used by rivals.
Electric energy to run the electric motor is provided by an 8.8kWh lithium ion battery sited underneath the rear seat in the place usually taken up by the fuel tank in the conventionally powered models – a position aimed at providing the Golf Plug-in Hybrid with the best possible centre of gravity, with the 125kg mass of battery mounted as low as possible. The fuel tank is relocated beneath the boot floor, meaning no loss of cabin space.