Hugh Maguire: test drives this Plug-in Hybrid
VW have made a commitment to electric cars.
However they are not there yet over all the range and so we have cars that attempt to offer a bit of both, electric, and petrol and so it is with the new Passat GTE. So what is it?
A Passat yes but offering a little bit of everything for the emission conscious buyer. Its a Plug-in Hybrid, its got an electric motor and a 145 bhp 1.4 litre TFSI petrol engine.
Here’s the idea! The petrol engine does away with the “range anxiety” issue of current pure electric cars. The VW Passat GTE boasts electric power for zero emission motoring.
The battery can be charged by plugging the car into the domestic electricity supply or a defined charging station and to a lesser degree by the engine as you drive in petrol mode.
The battery and the engine also offer a combined power output of 218 bhp in GTE mode. Three modes, EV, Petrol or GTE.
So Has it any street cred?
It is a smart tidy looking 3-box saloon. The casual observer will not notice any difference to the “normal”car and I like that. The more observant will spot the new Matrix LEDs up front and discreet flap for the plug in in the front grille. I must say its a classy looking machine with lovely lines.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the Passat GTE is well designed, beautifully trimmed Nappa leather and nicely laid out. The driving position feels rather high for me. Perched in the car rather than sitting down in it.
Otherwise the seats are excellent and all switches and levers fall easily to hand. There is an air of Teutonic efficiency about the whole car. What it may lack in flair it more than makes up for in functionality and it all feels upmarket.
Standard equipment is comprehensive, with all the usual kit we have come to expect.
What is under the bonnet?
Driving the Passat GTE you can ignore the plug-in element altogether and let the car switch automatically between petrol or electric power (hybrid mode) or both for full boost acceleration.
Select EV-Mode and if there is charge in the new more powerful battery it runs silently on electric power for up to about 53km km during my test.
Nevertheless you will have to regularly plug in the new GTE if your to get the most out of its fuel saving potential.
To constantly have to plug in to get just 50km or so of electric range requires dedication and discipline. Frankly some times I didn’t bother.
Then your driving a Passat thats both heavier and less economical than its petrol stablemate.
So if you go the plug-in hybrid route you need to work it to get the best from it! Road tax is €170.00.
Will I enjoy driving it?
The Passat GTE rides and handles well. The suspension does a good job of soaking up road imperfections and refinement levels are good. Its not a drivers car, you feel its weight but it is a perfect motorway cruiser.
Accomadation is excellent both front and rear and the boot is cavernous.
So what’s the final verdict?
First of all it is a VW Passat so its very good. But here is the problem.
The Passat GTE costs a whopping €43,295 including the SEAI grant and VRT rebate. So you need to think carefully if your motoring needs will be best served by a plug in hybrid before you part with your cash. If so then you will benefit from the low running cost.
Overall, a premium car that looks fabulous and offers the best of both the electric and petrol motoring world.