New hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTI has over 400bhp | Top Gear
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The first official hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTI has over 400bhp

No, it’s not a GTE – it’s a 4x4 GTI with Porsche-scaring power. Future ahoy.

Published: 24 May 2017

Attention, fast Volkswagen fans, and hurried Uber drivers looking to upgrade from their infernal Prius. A brand-new fast petrol-electric Golf is here.

Yes, VW already makes a hybrid ‘hot’ hatch. It’s called the Golf GTE, subtly hinting that although it’s fairly quick, it’s not quite worthy of a the seminal GTI badge. It makes do with a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor on the front wheels, making just over 200bhp.

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What you’re looking at is altogether more serious. It’s called the VW Golf GTI First Decade, and its petrol engine alone develops a massive 396bhp. And all of it’s entrusted to the front wheels. That’s the bit in charge of making you go very fast. 

The rear wheels, meanwhile, are spun by a 48-volt, 12kW electric motor. Now, if that doesn’t sound like much, you’re absolutely right – it’s only 16bhp. Think of the e-motor as the GTI First Decade’s conscience. Once you’re done slewing around on fossil fuels, marmalising the front tyres at every roundabout, you can switch onto battery power (making your Golf GTI rear-drive in the process) and cruise silently around on zero-emission smugness. It’s not a range-extender, and nor is the electric system designed to help push the car around all the time. It’s merely for parking and city driving, helping urban air quality and saving your precious petrol for when the road opens up and demands juvenile behaviour. 

Why the curious ‘First Decade’ name? Well, that’s a nod to this being the tenth year of Wörthersee concept cars created by VW. Wörthersee is a sort of pilgrimage-festival for modified car enthusiasts of a VW Group persuasion, and in the past has brought us the likes of the VW Golf GTI W12 650 to keep the faithful entertained. That means there’s no plans to make this hella-hybrid GTI a production car, but it shows VW is thinking about integrating electricity into its core heartland models.

Oh, and one more thing – don’t go thinking this ultra-hybrid, split personality hatch was the work of a load of ancient beardy types. The team behind the GTI First Decade are all VW engineering apprentices, aged between 18 and 23 years old.  What do you reckon to their plan for GTI Mk8 and beyond?

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