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…
Is there a mid-life crisis going on at Car Couture? I’ve actually been considering a red sports car, then last month I bought a Belstaff leather jacket and now, to cap it all, I’m thinking the Golf R needs a bit more razzamatazz.
It’s not the performance – this is a hot hatchback like no other. No, it’s the rather bland styling and soul-less profile that welcomes me to the driveway every morning.
Of course, the Golf GTI was never a stand-out model in the car park. You can leave that naff bling to Renault and Ford with their offerings. But even so, there’s no much to excite the eye with the R.
Apart from the lack of leather seats as standard (surely at this price?), it’s the only fault I have with the R.
A truly brilliant 5-door that does nothing to announce your arrival but gets you there and back in thoroughly entertaining style…
I’ve grown up with the Volkswagen Golf – it’s not quite as old as me but I can remember when the first ‘German hatchback’ arrived back in 1974. It was named the Rabbit in America. Weird.
The Golf arrived in November, the month John Lennon played on stage with Elton John in New York and the Rubik’s Cube was first invented. Somebody had also dreamt up a game called Dungeons & Dragons…
Those early Mk I Golfs are now collector’s items and the R we’re driving this week is destined to be the same. It has cult status written all over it – backed up by the tag of the fastest ever Golf.
If you are saving up for a GTI my advice is save a bit longer and get the R. Few cars are guaranteed to have such a following in the future…
It’s called mood lighting. I still think Range Rover do it best – flashing a circle of light from underneath the door mirror onto the ground when you click the key fob. On the road it reads ‘Range Rover’. Cool.
Most mood lighting takes place inside the cabin though. Volkswagen has equipped the R with a vibrant blue strip along the kick plate as you step in – plus the same across the top of the door.
I’m all for mood lighting (in the Beetle, the colours can be changed depending on your ‘mood’ with a rotating dial) but it’s a bit bling if you like your Golf to be low key and ‘under the wire’.
And nobody buys a Golf to make a big statement, do they? Even the R is the most underplayed, hot hatchback you can buy. Consider what Renault has done to the Megane RS 265 for example – eek!
A friend of mine collects Mark I Golf convertibles in France – he has five stored in his barn. Over the years, the following six incarnations have brought us to this version.
Just like the Porsche 911, there have been good and bad models (996? Eeek!) but the Golf has generally been regarded as the benchmark hatchback for some 40 years now.
So as my friend begins August at his local car rally (the French like old cars as much as we do), he’ll no doubt be reading this and considering the R as the future classic Golf to buy and collect.
And because the fastest Golf ever is the R, this immediately gives it cult status. Over the next 20 years, the secondhand price of the R will dip like any other vehicle. But in 2035, this hatchback is going to be a classic.
If we can still buy petrol by then, this will likely also be considered as the finest ever hatchback…
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…