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As automakers transition to more electrified vehicles, there is one popular model that is still missing from American showrooms. The widespread popularity of the Volkswagen Golf GTI is long documented, which begs the question: when will VW bring the GTE to America? Sadly, for now there are no known plans in the works, so consider this an open letter. Volkswagen, we’re begging you, bring your electrified hot hatch to America.

A white VW GTE isn't sold in America, but it should be
Volkswagen GTE | VW Group

The GTE is Volkswagen’s hybrid GTI

For those not so entrenched in automotive nerdery outside of our shores, explaining the GTE shouldn’t take much. The GTE is a VW GTI with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Specifically, the GTE uses a smaller turbocharged engine than its non-hybrid sibling, but with an electric motor to make up the difference.

This combination results in identical power figures to the GTI, but with the bonus of an EV mode and improved overall efficiency. Even better, the instant torque of the electric motor delivers better throttle response than the traditional GTI. 

The VW GTE would appeal to a wide range of buyers in America

Despite the smaller combustion engine, there is reason to believe that a plug-in hybrid VW GTI would be a popular choice here in America. For one thing, the American appetite for electrified vehicles is on the rise. According to CleanTechnica, plug-in hybrid adoption has been on the rise since 2020, and the total sales rate for both plug-in and full-electric vehicles has increased with each year.

Specifically, the Volkswagen GTE could appeal to buyers in America thanks to its blend of performance and efficiency. The combined 242 horsepower and 40 miles of electric range allow the electrified hot hatch to be both fun and functional. For a vehicle that has thrived on a similar reputation for generations, an electrified GTI would surely be a hit in the states.

Hatches are dying, but the GTE could bring them back

The VW GTE in blue, driving on the right like we do in America.
The Volkswagen GTE | VW Group

Unfortunately, models like the Ford Focus and Fiesta, along with the traditional Golf and Audi A3 Hatchback have all left the American marketplace. And while crossovers and trucks have taken over, electrification may be changing the game.

Smaller and lighter electrified vehicles offer better range with smaller batteries than those bigger SUVs. That means quicker charging times without sacrificing overall battery capability. A plug-in hybrid hatchback like the GTE would carry an appeal in America based on both of these factors. The fact that it is based on a platform that is already a popular choice only bolsters its potential to become a hit. 

Plug-in hybrid performance wouldn’t be unusual

While a plug-in hybrid version of the Golf GTI would be new to America, the idea of a plug-in hybrid performance model isn’t. From halo cars like the Porsche 918 to luxury cars like the Volvo S60 Recharge, a battery pack that improves performance is something that drivers can already get. Putting that formula into a more affordable, practical vehicle would fill a gap that currently just the KIA Niro PHEV and Hyundai Kona PHEV occupy. More competition is certainly a good thing, and VW offering a hybrid GTE in America would be a welcome addition for enthusiasts.

The current European GTE isn’t perfect, but we have a solution

It’s probably too late in its life cycle to bring the current European GTE to America, but for a future option, we have a proposition. Currently, the only mainstream Volkswagen plug-in hybrid product is the Audi Q5 PHEV. However, that hefty plug-in hybrid is hiding a powerful secret under the hood.

The Q5 hybrid’s 2.0-liter turbo makes 201 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque on its own, then an electric motor bumps things up. Together they make for an impressive 362 ponies and 369 pound-feet. We suggest strapping that powerful pairing into the smaller GTI body to make a new VW GTE that delivers the goods.

Zero to 60 in the heavy Q5 is already stout at 6.8 seconds. Putting that into a lighter hatchback will only make things better. Even if the added weight makes for softer handling than the non-hybrid VW hatch, the added power would be more than enough to get some enthusiasts to make the leap. 

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