June 23 If you want another reason why petrol-electric hydrid cars should be the future, just read today’s story from the BBC stating ‘diesel cars more polluting below 18C’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36589106.
New research suggests many popular diesel cars are worse when the temperature is below 18C. If it wasn’t for the EU referendum, this would be the lead story – and it stinks!
I’m not the ‘greenest’ person in town but I do get the feeling there’s a lot more we don’t get told about the polluting nature of the cars we drive. VW, of course, are in the thick of it with their ‘issues’ but at least the Golf GTE is a breath of fresh air.
There are plenty of hybrids around that offer the same package but the GTE is also great fun to drive, beautifully built and, yes, cool!
It’s my last day with the Golf. It’s not cheap and economy peaks at 44mpg but I can’t help but like it. Would I buy one over a performance Golf R? Not sure living in the country but if I lived in London then a definite ‘yes’.
June 21 The transition between combustion engine power and electric motor is hardly noticeable in the Golf GTE.
But find yourself in stop-start traffic going up a hill, with the car in full electric mode and the Volkswagen doesn’t like the terrain at all.
It judders forward in tiny kangaroo skips that encourage you to switch straight back to hybrid mode.
Otherwise, it’s fun trying to squeeze the most mpg from the GTE by switching between modes via the infotainment system.
Just remember this is a car that performs best around town. I’ve spent the weekend on long distance treks any only just managed 41mpg.
Worth considering if you’re expect to turn the world green with your £33k hybrid car,,,
June 20 Like turning up at a vegetarian conference eating a hog dog, arriving at a festival of cycling in a car isn’t a good thing.
Indeed, you can almost feel those two-wheeled fanatics cursing your combustion engine and health damaging particulates.
So when I arrived at the Eroica Britannia (www.eroicabritannia.co.uk) in Derbyshire in my Golf GTE, I wanted to hoist a flag declaring that my car was actually running on electrical power rather than petrol.
You see, the GTE looks so similar to the standard Golf, you just wouldn’t know it was a hybrid. But I think the VW was just about the coolest four-wheeled machine there.
Even if only a handful of people at the Eroica actually realised I was running on clean air…
June 18 Just off to Ascot – hopefully to win enough money to buy a Maserati. Only kidding, I’d settle for one of these Golfs actually.
For some reason I’ve never owned a VW – which is weird because I rate them pretty highly. Especially the R, which is fantastically quick and so easy to drive at speed.
The GTE is sleepy by comparison but I love the fact it has uber-green credentials and still churns out enough performance to make the ride to the racecourse exciting.
This is the first hybrid that has really turned me on to the idea of owning a petrol-electric. Pretty pointless living in the sticks but I can usually find a good reason to buy any car if I like it.
So, I’ll report back on Monday with mpg – which of course won’t be anything like the official 166 claimed – and how what the Golf is like to live with in the real world.
I hoping it lives up to the promise…
June 17 Volkswagen announced yesterday that it plans to launch 30 all-electric cars in the next nine years – making itself the leader in green transport.
The company says that by 2025 all-electric cars would make up some 25 per cent of annual sales. It will also move VW on from the damaging scandal it is battling to put behind them concerning diesel emissions.
Our Golf GTE shows how well they are doing. It’s an exceptional hybrid – despite the price – but there is something Volkswagen could do to further enhance the GTEs image.
Lead a campaign to give motorists real-world economy figures! The official mpg tests for cars are carried out over a short distance, which means any hybrid car will appear to give remarkable economy figures well over 100 mpg.
It’s a major frustration to buyers – and a source of bad feeling – that must be rectified. And with VW struggling to put the emissions scandal behind them, what better way to ‘come clean’ on economy.
June 16 After a week of madness in the Caterham Seven, it’s something of a relief to be able to step into a car without the need for ear-plugs or having to perform a double-jointed manoeuvre to squeeze aboard. Working windscreen wipers are a bonus too.
There’s also an element of cool about this particular Golf. Based on the world’s benchmark hatchback, here’s a car that gives you instant eco credibility in a brilliant all round package.
Unfortunately, what’s hard to ignore is the price. I’d be fascinated to know what kind of person will pay £33k for a hybrid Golf. If they want economy, a TDI version will more than equal it. If they want speed, the R is a class leader.
I’m just not sure the GTE offers enough to warrant that price tag. Slice off £8k and I’d be first in the queue…
A car for grown ups? A car for grown up hooligans more like. The R won’t turn many heads in the high street but it will gain your passenger’s attention pretty quickly.
Just 24 hours into the R test and I could have been hit with a brace of ASBOs.
Here’s a hatchback that your granny could drive to Waitrose for years before realising just what was under the bonnet. It’s not a Jekyll and Hyde car, it’s THE Jekyll and Hyde car.
Sensible on the outside, it has the ability to cut lose if you are up for some flat out fun. Purists might think the R is too sanitised compared to hot Golfs of old. Ignore them. I’ve driven every generation and nothing comes close…
If you want one very good reason to opt for the Performance Pack it should be the one that is the least obvious – the limited slip differential, which is a first for the GTI.
Now, most LSDs are mechanical devices, designed to stop the driven wheels scrabbling for grip when you start to lose it on a corner.
However, the VW system is a much cleverer affair that is electronically controlled. All you need to know is that it works exceptionally well and saves embarrassing tyre squeal at junctions too!
All GTIs have incredible traction anyway but the Performance Pack takes raises the bar, especially if you like to drive your Golf hard and enjoy the occasional track day…
Jeremy – It’s our last day with the Beetle, VW‘s answer to the retro Mini. But while the Mini has morphed into a variety of oddities, the Bug now looks better than ever.
The masculine, squat shape make the VW more purposeful than ever and there’s an exceptional interior that’s not only a pleasure to sit in but fairly practical too.
Sitting on the latest Golf platform, the Beetle is a better drive than the previous model, even though I would opt for the more refined 2.0-litre engine rather than the 1.4 we tried, which has to be worked exceptionally hard to prove enjoyable.
There’s just enough performance to make the high revving 1.4 fun. The steering is more precise and there is a surprising amount of grip on twisty roads. That said, somehow it doesn’t have the precision of the Golf through the bends.
If you want a roomy, practical hatchback for the family buy a Golf. For those who want something that turns a few heads and stands out from the crowd, the Beetle remains almost as cool as it was 40 years ago.
Jeremy Just back from a Friday morning spin down some busy A-roads in the Swift Sport. I’m finding any excuse to drive it at the moment because this car has lashings of something so many of its competitors lack – fun.
The first time I drove a Golf GTI 30 years ago, I remember being blown away by the power and agility of was otherwise a standard family hatchback. It’s the same feeling with the Suzuki – except it doesn’t have quite same the level of performance on tap.
But don’t let that put you off, the Swift is so beautifully balanced, so agile on the corners that it just urges you to ‘make progress’ wherever possible.
Sure, the Swift isn’t turbocharged like many sporty hatchbacks these days but the normally aspirated, 1.6 petrol engine is gutsy. It’s not ‘hot’ from a standing start but keep the revs up and it flies!
For gentlemen of certain age, the Swift Sport will turn the clock back to great GTIs like the Golf, Peugeot 205 and Fiesta. Uncomplicated, forgiving and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.