Yesterday, at the Shanghai Motor Show, the Germans revealed a new concept car ripe for the Chinese market, dubbed the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE.
While “Coupé” could be considered a bit of a misnomer here, as the car is clearly in-possession of four doors, we’re not interested in that. What we are interested in is the car’s two major headlines: a unique hybrid powertrain, and optimization for the Chinese market.
The Unique Hybrid Powertrain of the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE
The hybrid powertrain behind the new Volkswagen C Coupé GTE concept is as simple as it is effective: a turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder petrol engine produces about 210 HP, and is coupled to or decoupled from the 8-speed automatic transmission via an electronically-controlled clutch. Meanwhile, an electric motor is integrated into the transmission housing, offering up an additional 122 HP, as well as battery charge recuperation.
That electric drive motor feeds off of a 14.1 kWh battery pack, and with the car in E-mode, the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE can travel 31 miles solely on electric charge, at speeds of up to 81 mph. The standard Hybrid and sporty GTE modes, which are selected by the press of a button (or automatically, given the necessary set of conditions) utilize both the petrol engine and electric drive motor for a combined output of 240 HP, according to the automaker.
An additional Battery Charge/Battery Hold mode allows the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE to propel itself by petrol engine alone while the motor recuperates battery charge. If the battery is full, the motor will decouple from the transmission, awaiting a change in drive mode from the operator. In this way, you can save the battery charge for whenever you would really benefit from it, like with city driving.
One thing we noted is that in all likelihood, with the motor decoupled from the 8-speed transmission, “engine” braking would be noticeably reduced. We look forward to seeing how Volkswagen copes with that – if they bother at all.
The Volkswagen C Coupé GTE Is Ready For China
The hybrid powertrain of this new Volkswagen concept sedan is already ripe for a Chinese audience, as the country looks to get more low-emissions vehicles on the road to help alleviate some of its smog-choked cities. But of course, that’s not the only thing going for it there, as Volkswagen has learned a thing or two about appeasing wealthier Chinese buyers who would sooner be chauffeured around than drive themselves.
To that end, the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE is a four-seater, rather than a five. This is because, as Tesla Motors learned the hard way, moneyed, chauffeured customers demand just as much comfort in the back seat as is offered up front. And, the infotainment system has a very nifty “chauffeur” mode, whereby information regarding the back-seat occupant’s various appointments and places-of-interest can be synced from his or her smartphone in the back seat, to the infotainment console in the front. The chauffeur can then keep ahead of his or her boss’ schedule and planned destinations, and even receive an ordered navigation route for the entire day.
If produced, the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE would slot below the Phaeton in the VW lineup, above the Passat sedan. With a combined range of more than 684 miles and an estimated 102 mpg, the GTE would be more than welcome in any market – but perhaps especially in China.