Vw golf gte with plug-in hybrid in test: the perfect gti replacement?

A new golf is always a benchmark for the german automotive industry. The golf 8 GTE also aims to combine sustainability and GTI feeling. A test.

(picture: florian pillau)

  • Christian lorenz

A new golf is something of a benchmark for the german automotive industry. the golf is not only the best-selling model in the industry. It also defines the upscale mainstream across all age and class boundaries. A new golf generation is also always a kind of masterpiece of the incumbent VW board of management.

Expectations for the "diess-golf

Herbert diess likes to describe his management style as "disruptive". By this, he probably means tackling grievances confrontationally and implementing the requirements of the future consistently, quickly and ruthlessly. the auto industry is in a period of transition to alternative drives. The volkswagen group has also burned diesel technology with its unprecedented cheating despite continued high potential for the entire industry. In theory, this could be just the ticket. Because rarely has a group needed more disruption. Expectations for the "diess-golf were therefore high. The plug-in hybrid GTE also promises to bring together sporty GTI feeling and alternative sustainability.

Traditionally, a new golf scores points not mainly for its sharp lines delicious beauty. Rather, it has to integrate itself into the course of its generations in a way that is as suitable for the majority as possible. This time, however, the new-golf seems to me to have turned out particularly conservative visually. Personally, I found the predecessor’s appearance more dynamic. However, one has to give credit to the test GTE that it was painted in an almost painfully unemotional white.

After getting in, the new golf surprises – but unfortunately not in a positive way. The choice of materials, the look and feel of the cockpit in the golf 8 seem like a step backwards compared to its excellent predecessor. Although the plastics are carefully crafted. Just in the GTE, one of the most expensive golf versions that without extras with almost 43.000 euros in the price list, I don’t think the plastic landscape is up to par.

VW golf GTE exterior (6 pictures)

VW golf GTE with plug-in hybrid in test: the perfect GTI replacement?

the new ergonomic weaknesses are not a matter of taste. Intuitive operation was previously regarded as volkswagen’s lighthouse competence. The unlit slide slots for volume and temperature control via finger swipe may have a pseudo-modern touch, but a cheap switch can do everything better. Theoretically, the new control surfaces can respond to both presses and swipes. In practice, however, they often don’t do it at all.

The simplest functions such as temperature selection or volume control become an annoying procedure. However, the menu navigation of the infotainment system with its flat, clear hierarchies deserves great praise. Voice control occupies a lackluster midfield position in the competitive environment. It’s a pity, because the new golf could have overcome its ergonomic weaknesses with a voice control system on a par with BMW or mercedes.

Without function

Sometimes, however, in the new golf, you’re glad if something works at all. When I get into the golf on a cold morning and want to activate the seat heating, for example, it doesn’t work. Instead, the message appears that this function is currently not available. This may have been a problem with the test car, or perhaps it only occurs with the plug-in hybrid. In any case, this annoying fault did not occur in two golf 8s from the editorial team and friends. Be that as it may, this should not happen.

After a short annoying drive and several nervously unsuccessful attempts, one registers with joy to be able to switch on the seat heater. Unfortunately, pressing the seat heating symbol on the touchscreen still doesn’t get you there. Instead, there is a submenu "air conditioning" open. Here, exactly the same seat heating symbols reappear in a different place, and here you can finally switch on the seat heating. Such a thing does not have to be.

Quality regression

The newly designed buttons on the multifunction steering wheel, on the other hand, play on the keyboard of customer disappointment with analog means. Their optics give the impression of modern touch surfaces. Unfortunately, they are just multifunctional pushbuttons with old-fashioned low-budget haptics. Every time one of the many icons is pressed, the entire giant plastic field moves in the width of the steering wheel spoke. All this is annoying for a vehicle that until just now set the standard in the number of such details.


But the golf 8 is almost a debacle because of its software-GAU. The camera-based driving assistance systems fail repeatedly or even constantly, especially on freeways. Even on the test GTE, an error message appeared several times a minute, indicating that the sensors were dirty. Visual and audible warnings bombard the driver in annoying frequency.

A short time later, the problem is always gone again as if by magic, only to reappear with an annoying warning within minutes at the most. The entire assistance system, first and foremost the integrated lane departure warning system "travel assist including speed-limit assistant often doesn’t work. And this is no exception. All the wolves we know from our daily work in the editorial office and from our private circle of acquaintances showed the same findings.

Not ready for series production

The customer has paid money for these features that don’t work. On top of that, it’s about driving safety assistants that endanger the driver through their lack of reliability. And this is particularly bitter, as the system shows great potential. When the "travel assist" said networked assistance armada works properly in the meantime, it’s better than most of the competition’s systems. The golf will then drive you semi-autonomously, jerk-free, with foresight and confidence, reacting early to speed limits, recognizing digital gantries and behaving like an exemplary butler. You could get used to it, but at this moment it usually goes "beep" again!". It would have been too good.

VW golf GTE interior (12 pictures)

VW golf GTE with plug-in hybrid in test: the perfect GTI replacement?

It would be surprising if the new VW brand board member ralf brandstatter wasn’t already working flat out on a redesign of the golf 8. It is to be hoped that he, together with the group’s head of development, duesmann, will quickly get to grips with the software. Customers interested in a new golf or other group model of the revised MQB platform should give VW time to work out the problems before ordering.

Inharmonious GTE

the software malus makes you particularly sad when you find out how the new golf performs on the road. Both sporty serpentine chases and long-distance highway passages it completes without significant body movements. This is on a level for which S-Class cars would have been celebrated ten years ago. For my colleague martin, the sport suspension of the GTE is a tad too hard, despite the 1000 euro adaptive dampers. but I could live with it wonderfully.

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