VW's plug-in hybrid range expands with Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

Nearly production-ready concept shows Volkswagen's plug-in hybrid intentions

The initials GTE will be an increasingly familiar sight on Volkswagens in future, and the latest car they grace is the new Tiguan GTE Active Concept, revealed at the Detroit auto show.

A five-seat SUV concept, the Tiguan GTE previews the scope of Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid powertrains, pairing a turbocharged petrol engine (of unspecified displacement) with a pair of electric motors.

The engine develops 148bhp of power, while a 54bhp electric motor at the front axle and a 114bhp motor at the rear – with 162lb ft and 199lb ft of torque respectively – endow the Tiguan GTE with all-wheel drive.

Like VW’s production GTE models, a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission handles drive to the wheels, rather than the continuously-variable system used in many hybrid vehicles. It’s been specially designed for use in the GTE, with the front electric motor integrated into the transmission casing.

A 12.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack provides charge for the GTE’s electric range of around 20 miles. There’s enough power in electric mode alone to reach up to 70mph, so short bursts of motorway travel would be possible on electric power. Total range, including petrol power, is 580 miles.

Drive supplies either the rear wheels alone or all four wheels, depending on the driving program and drive modes. In E-mode – electric power – it’s the rear wheels alone that power the car along, with the engine and front motor kicking in when required for extra torque, extra traction and extra power.

With all four wheels delivering power, the Tiguan GTE Active Concept sprints to 60mph in 6.4 seconds, while top speed is 120mph. It's respectably quick then; but as we've found with the Golf GTE, VW will have its work cut out making up for additional weight if it's to produce a drivers' car.

Driving modes comprise Onroad, Offroad, Snow, Charge and Battery Hold functions. The first three are fairly self-explanatory. Charge mode tops up the battery while the engine is running, while Battery Hold prepares for future zero-emission city centres, allowing the driver to reserve the battery range to be called upon when required.

The vehicle can either coast or utilise regenerative braking when lifting off the accelerator pedal – the former disengaging drive letting the car ‘sail’ further down the road, the latter using the electric motors as generators to recharge the battery, slowing the car down in the manner of regular braking.

There are several concept functions unlikely to reach production, as ever – the roof-mounted LED spotlights being one – but otherwise the Tiguan GTE looks remarkably production-ready.

Even the interior, normally a haven of ultra-simplicity and weirdness in most concepts, looks little different from something you might find in a Golf. Gesture control – previewed at CES – also makes an appearance.

VW says some of the exterior off-road design elements too could make production, such as the underbody scuff plates.

Read more of our Detroit auto show coverage by heading over to our hub page.

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