Volkswagen has unveiled the Sport Coupe Concept GTE at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show, heralding a new and progressive Volkswagen design language.
The interior of the Sport Coupe Concept GTE is as innovative as its exterior. It features extremely clean design, matchless ergonomics and new interactive interfaces between human and machine-including the use of the driver’s biometric data and a new Active Info Display that has a 3D appearance. The upshot is an avant-garde interior ambience that is in complete harmony with its expressive exterior design.
Under the skin, the car is also very innovative. The GTE designation promises a plug-in hybrid drive system and that’s what this concept delivers. Volkswagen’s regular GTE models can be driven approximately 32 miles in all-electric mode and yet they can cover very long distances with confidence.
GTE versions are conceivable in all vehicle classes, as demonstrated with the Cross Coupe GTE SUV concept vehicle that was shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Volkswagen differentiates between the B, C and D segments in the mid-size and premium classes. The latest Passat, for example, is setting standards in the high-volume section of the B segment; the Volkswagen CC is positioned in the upper B segment; and the Phaeton, as a premium sedan, is in the D segment. The Sport Coupe Concept is breaking out of its current segment and into the C segment.
The concept car is underpinned again by Volkswagen’s modular transverse matrix (MQB), which allows for great packaging and proportions. The most important dimension for the design of a car is the ratio of the exterior length to the wheelbase. The concept car is 191.7 inches long with an incredibly long wheelbase of 118.9 inches, creating an interior that is 73.7 inches long, as well as short body overhangs: 35.8 inches at the front and 44.1 inches at the back. Its low height (55.4 inches), impressive width (73.4 inches) and large 21-inch wheels give the car a spectacular stance. Yet, because of the MQB packaging, the Sport Coupe Concept GTE also offers excellent front and rear headroom and a 17.0 cubic foot trunk.
The uppermost radiator grille crosspiece frames the inner LED modules (high beams and Daytime Running Lights); the second crosspiece wraps around the outer LED modules (low beams and DRLs). The winglets also function as DRLs thanks to integrated bands of LEDs and as turn signals by alternating the LED color at the top ends of the bands. The Sport Coupe Concept GTE’s DRL signature is completed by the C-shaped LEDs arranged around the lower air intakes (an identifying characteristic of electric and plug-in hybrid models from Volkswagen).
The Sport Coupe Concept GTE is a Coupe with four doors and a hatchback. This approach led to a design that emphasises long, extended lines, a low overall height and an athletic body form. The car’s silhouette is uncompromised: the roofline assumes the shape of a flattened curve extending from the A-pillar-set far back for a long hood-to the rear body. The extremely low-set C-pillar, which develops seamlessly from the roofline, dominates the back end of the car. Air vents in the front fenders and hood have chrome elements that mimic the stylistic theme of the winglets around the headlights.
The new interfaces in the Sport Coupe Concept GTE are appealing to the eye as well as being a high-tech tour de force. The instrument cluster is a prototype of a newly conceptualised Active Info Display with 3D graphics. The display has a 12.3-inch diagonal and was designed in such a way that the virtual space blends into the real border of the instrument cluster, via a patented ambient light effect, thus creating a free-form surface. In its basic configuration, the digital display depicts two round instruments; a power meter on the left and a speedometer on the right with a field between them for all sorts of information. The new free-form surface makes the round instruments appear to hover in virtual space. The graphics of the displays change according to the driving mode (E-mode or GTE mode).
The central infotainment system’s touchscreen has a 10.1 inch diagonal; the area alongside this screen also features touch-sensitive slider controls for the HVAC. The rear seating area has a 12.3-inch touchscreen that serves as the media control module and is integrated between the individual seats. It can be used to operate functions that include the media library, telephone and navigation. Rear passengers can also control the two 10.1-inch screens embedded in the backrests of the front seats via this media control unit. In addition, the slider controls integrated alongside the 12.3-inch display can be used to operate the automatic climate control system, for a four-zone system.
For the first time, Volkswagen is interfacing the car’s electronics directly with the driver. Based on the driver’s biometric data, the Sport Coupe Concept GTE determines, via a smartwatch or armband for measuring the driver’s vital functions, whether to select a route that includes an exciting country road or a gentle route instead.
Monitoring of biometric data begins as soon as the driver inputs the destination by voice or on the touchscreen-but only if the driver wants the data stored in the device to be used as input for the navigation system. Time and distance are secondary factors here. In this navigation mode, which is individually tailored to the driver, the sole purpose is to experience maximum driving enjoyment.
The Sport Coupe Concept GTE is powered by a plug-in hybrid drive system that is both economical and sporty. The concept car uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre TSI V6 direct-injection engine that produces 295 horsepower (220 kW) and maximum torque of 369 pound feet. The electrical components consist of a lithium-ion battery that’s housed in the center tunnel and two electric motors. The 54-hp (40 kW0 front motor is integrated in the 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission and the rear electric motor develops 114 hp (85 kW). The total available system power is 374 hp (279 kW).
If necessary, the system’s power can be distributed to all four wheels thanks to the rear electric motor and an “electric driveshaft”. In the sporty GTE mode, the 155 mph Coupe accelerates from zero to 62 mph in just 5.0 seconds. Despite this dynamic performance, the concept car has an EC combined fuel consumption of 118 mpg. In addition, the Sport Coupe Concept GTE can be driven all-electrically, with zero emissions, for a distance of at least 32 miles. The total driving range on one tank of gasoline is more than 745 miles.
The concept car starts in Hybrid Mode by default. The Sport Coupe Concept GTE is then a classical full hybrid that charges the battery via regenerative braking and automatically uses the V6 engine and/or the electric motor depending on the drive situation. In this mode, the battery state of charge is kept constant; the driver can actively influence this by using the battery hold function.
Coasting: As soon as the driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator and the battery is sufficiently charged, the gasoline engine and electric motors are shut down and disengaged from the drivetrain.
Recuperation Mode: If the driver removes his or her foot from the accelerator or brakes when the battery is not sufficiently charged, both electric motors work as generators and feed the energy generated during braking to the lithium-ion battery. In this case, too, the V6 engine is shut down and disengaged.
Driving with the V6 engine: When the gasoline engine alone is powering the vehicle, the concept car is purely front-wheel drive to achieve excellent fuel economy.
“E-Mode”: In E-mode, which the driver activates by button push, only the 114-hp electric motor at the rear axle provides propulsive power. In all-electric driving, the V6 TSI is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging the clutch, and it is shut off. As soon as the six-cylinder engine needs to be used again-due to the battery’s charge state or other parameters-it is coupled to the drivetrain again within fractions of a second without any jolts. The lithium-ion battery, which has a capacity of 10.7 kWh, is responsible for supplying energy to the electric motors.
The driver uses the GTE button to switch to the most dynamic side of the vehicle. This makes the throttle, transmission and steering characteristics even sportier. In addition, the V6 engine and the electric motors work together to deliver the full system output and the maximum system torque.
The dual-mode Battery Hold (energy content of the battery stays constant) and Battery Charge (battery is charged whilst driving) is activated via a sub-menu in the infotainment system. It serves to hold the vehicle in E-Mode, for example, when the driver knows they are about to enter an urban area.
All four wheels are powered as soon as the system detects it is needed. In this case (and when the battery charge is low), the front electric motor is employed exclusively as a generator that is driven by the gasoline engine in order to provide the power for its counterpart at the rear axle. As the power to drive the rear axle flows electronically, the all-wheel-drive system is referred to as an “electric driveshaft”. Since the V6 engine drives the rear electric motor via the front motor, all-wheel drive is available even when the battery has a low state of charge and the car is running as a plug-in-hybrid.