Hot hatch fans gather each year in the Austrian town of Worthersee for the latest news from Volkswagen AG. And the automaker isn’t about to disappoint them this year. In fact, it’s rolling out a pair of offerings at the event.
That includes both the 287-horsepower GTI Clubsport concept and the Golf GTE Sport, a carbon fiber-bodied, 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid. Think of the latter model as a zero-emissions race car, VW suggests.
The two concept vehicles hint at the direction Volkswagen is taking as it continues to expand the award-winning “family” of Golf variants which already covers a broad range from basic econocar to high-performance hot hatch, with diesel and battery-car versions thrown into the mix.
The Worthersee gathering is an annual love fest where up to 200,000 Volkswagen fans go to celebrate the VW brand — and vice versa. The maker routinely rewards those who make the pilgrimage with new products and concept vehicles, and this year has a double dose of news.
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The GTE badge is being used by VW on new battery-based offerings and will be showing up on more and more models in the coming years. But for those who think of battery cars are dull and sluggish, the Golf GTE Sport will come as quite a surprise.
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“Volkswagen is transferring the GT tradition to the future,” the maker says, with a “concept car that breaks down the traditional barriers between road and motorsports vehicles.”
The body and platform are largely made up of ultra-light and super-strong carbon fiber, something many industry experts believe is the material of the future. The design is almost triangular, narrow up front, wide in the rear, with unique C-pillars meant to enhance airflow. There are also gullwing doors and a large rear spoiler.
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Inside, the Golf GTE Sport adopts an unusual seating layout, divided up into twin monocoque zones. There’s also high-tech track instrumentation that helps a driver visualize the best line to take on a track.
The running gear, VW explains, is loosely based on the current battery model, the Golf GTE. In electric mode, it can manage a full 50 kilometers – about 31 miles – per charge.
There are twin electric motors, one up front, the other driving the back axle. Together, they produce about 85 kilowatts of power using energy drawn from a lithium-ion battery pack. There’s also a turbocharged 1.6-liter gasoline engine making 220 kilowatts- or 295 hp.
When all three of its motors are fired up, they turn out a combined 396 horsepower in a virtual all-wheel-drive system that maximizes power to the pavement. Special aerodynamic tweaks help by increasing high-speed downforce.
The Volkswagen GTE Sport concept can launch from 0 to 100 kmh, or 62.5 mph, in just 4.3 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 174 mph.
As for the VW GTI Clubsport concept, think of it as sliding in somewhere between the current GTI and Golf R models.
Visually, it gets a number of body tweaks, along with the addition of semi-slick tires. There’s a completely new front bumper, side sills, a roof spoiler and a rear diffuser, all of which VW says were designed to enhance the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
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Helping launch the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the GTI line, the front-drive model starts out with an upgraded version of the stock GTI’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. It adds a special overboost function that can kick in an extra 10% more horsepower, boosting output to a solid 287 hp.
While the Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport appears likely to remain a concept only, VW says it will roll out a production version of the GTI Clubsport at the start of 2016. Unfortunately, it may not make it to the U.S.