If you think that Volkswagen’s current cars are a little, um, forgettable, you’re certainly not alone. But if VW’s new Sport Coupe Concept GTE, which just made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, is any indication of where VW is going, there might well be some VWs worth remembering in the future.
With a broad, chiseled face that bears a striking resemblance to the new Aston Martin Lagonda, the Sport Coupe Concept GTE is being billed as a car that could fill the gap between the Passat and the aging Phaeton luxury sedan that VW phased out of its U.S. lineup years ago. It is also the latest automobile to push the definition of the word “coupe,” with its four-door hatchback body and four spacious seats. It is edgy and sexy, however, without looking forced. Particularly well executed are the grill slats that blend into the LED running lamps, the chamfered tailgate, and elegant wheel bugles that convey a muscular stance without looking steroidal. Think of it as an Audi A7 with a VW badge.
While we still have a hard time calling any four-door a “coupe,” we do agree with that the word “sport” applies in this case. Powering this sexy concept car (and indeed, that which puts the “GTE” in its name) is a 375-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. With a turbocharged V-6 and a small electric motor integrated within the gearbox up front and a second, more powerful electric motor driving the rear wheels, the Sport Coupe Concept thus features all-wheel drive without sacrificing cabin space for a drive shaft. Volkswagen claims that the car can accelerate from zero to 62 in five seconds flat, with a top speed of 155 mph. As a plug-in hybrid with a lithium ion battery, much of one’s daily driving could be done on electricity alone, thus enabling the car to average a whopping 118 mpg. While that latter number is not according to the U.S. EPA’s way of measuring fuel economy, the Sport Coupe Concept GTE could generate huge efficiency numbers.
The interior, meanwhile, is simultaneously high-tech and beautiful. Once again, the concept takes after Audi — in this case the Prologue concept — with elegantly shaped touch screens, aluminum strips and wood planks, mostly horizontal in arrangement to accentuate width, and an architectural “floating” center console. Nifty tech features include the ability to perform a biometric driver “vitality” check via smartwatch or wristband, navigation that can automatically tailor routes depending on the driver’s known penchant for taking the shortest or the most scenic routes, and a vehicle-to-vehicle information system that gathers real-time information about traffic and weather conditions on the road ahead from fellow drivers.
VW did not say how serious it is about turning the Sport Coupe Concept GTE into a Sport Coupe GTE reality; even if it doesn’t happen, we’d would love to see the styling trickle down to the rest of the VW line. Let’s just hope VW gives this one a new name.