Probably the biggest unveiling from Volkswagen Group at the Frankfurt Motor Show was the Audi E-Tron Quattro, but the Volkswagen Tiguan GTE is another big new plug-in concept car from the German giant that is also worthy of a full article.
The Tiguan GTE is another SUV, but in this case a plug-in hybrid. It is based on the very popular MQB platform, which has seen ~2.6 million sales since it was birthed 2007.
The Tiguan GTE concept has 50 kilometers (31 miles) of electric driving range, presumably based on the overly generous New European Driving Cycle. “Its average fuel consumption (combined) is a mere 1.9 l/100 km; this equates to a CO2 emissions figure of 42 g/km,” Volkswagen writes. Here are some more deets:
TSI plus E plus DSG
The concept car is driven via its front axle by a direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine (1.4 TSI with 115 kW) and an electric motor. The lithium-ion high-voltage battery supplies the electric motor with energy. The Tiguan GTE operates with a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) that was specially developed for hybrid use. The electric motor was integrated into the gearbox housing. Additional components of the hybrid drive include the power electronics (converts DC power from the battery to AC power for the electric motor) and a charger. The Tiguan GTE can be driven in the described E-Mode or in one of the three other modes Hybrid, Battery Charge, or GTE. After starting the drive system, the concept vehicle automatically drives off in “E-Mode”. When a minimum charge level of the battery has been reached or when there is very high demand for power, the drive system automatically switches over to the “Hybrid” mode. This means that “E-Mode” is deactivated, and the Tiguan GTE now behaves like a classic full hybrid vehicle. It charges the battery regeneratively during deceleration and automatically uses the TSI and/or electric motor according to the driving situation. By pressing the “E-Mode” button, the driver can manually switch to zero-emissions operation if necessary. Exclusively driven by electric motor, the Tiguan then has a top speed of 130 km/h.
GTE mode as boost function
The driver presses the GTE button to switch to GTE mode, which activates the sporty side of the concept car. This GTE mode is an exclusive feature of all Volkswagen vehicles with a plug-in hybrid drive system. The characteristics of the accelerator pedal, gearbox and steering are made noticeably more dynamic, and the tuning of the TSI is more performance oriented. In addition, in the GTE mode the TSI and electric motor work together in what is known as “boosting” which makes the full system power and the maximum system torque available. The Tiguan GTE then has a top speed of 200 km/h and accelerates to 100 km/h in a short 8.1 seconds.
Audi is good at hyping its electric offerings, and that as well as decent competitiveness has been resulting in quite good sales in Europe. However, I was admittedly disappointed when driving the Audi A3 e-tron (a plug-in hybrid) recently — after being very excited to test it out. Plug-in hybrids just don’t have the same acceleration, quietness, and fun of fully electric cars, from my experience. (One reason my own car purchase in the coming months is likely to be a BMW i3 or Tesla Model S.)
Nonetheless, many prefer plug-in hybrids for now, and it’s great to see Volkswagen bringing another one to market… presumably. Plug-in hybrids are still certainly a big step above conventional hybrids or gasmobiles, in my experience and opinion.