Volkswagen Reveals Tiguan GTE Active Concept at NAIAS
Off-Road Show Car Previews Second-Gen Compact SUV
With the debut of the Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active today at the North American International Auto Show, VW is giving Detroiters a look at the company’s second-generation compact SUV due in 2017. Based on the completely redesigned second-gen Tiguan, the GTE Active concept “reflects the great technical versatility of the new SUV,” according to Volkswagen.
The GTE, as its name denotes, is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle featuring two electric motors making 54 hp on the front axle and 114 hp in back. Mated to a 148hp turbocharged gas engine (likely the 1.4L I-4 TSI, if the output is to be believed), total system horsepower tallies up to 221. The 12.4-kWh lithium-ion battery can move the Tiguan GTE up to 20 miles in all-electric mode, with a total driving range of 580 miles once the gas engine dries its fuel tank.
Mercifully, Volkswagen fit its hybrid SUV with a six-speed DSG transmission, rather than a boring CVT for which hybrids have become known. The front electric motor is integrated into the transmission casing, and it routes power through all four wheels when needed. The Tiguan GTE defaults to zero-emissions E-mode rear-wheel drive, but if slip is detected, the front electric motor can be engaged almost immediately.
If the driver selects Off-road Mode or the battery’s charge drops too far, the gas engine fires up and the Tiguan becomes a low-emissions hybrid. In a complicated bit of electrical engineering, the gas engine powers the front wheels, relegating the front-mounted electric motor to generating electrical energy to charge the battery. Unlike in the current Tiguan, the driver can select front-, rear-, or four-wheel drive for the car’s 4Motion system.
The new Tiguan will be VW’s first SUV built on its “modular transverse matrix” (MQB, in German). However, the GTE departs from the standard Tiguan with increased ground clearance (up to 8.9 inches, from 7.1), extra skidplates, and tow hooks. Sixteen-inch wheels are mounted on knobby all-terrain tires, giving the GTE Active extra grip.
Inside, the Tiguan GTE Active gets a technical, modern look. Matrix-style upholstery, metallic accents, and dark chrome trim combine with extremely subtle red accents in the air vents to create a cockpit in which the first Mars astronauts could be comfortable. A massive high-resolution touchscreen features gesture control functionality, and many of the vehicle’s secondary controls (like seat heaters, volume adjustments, et al) are operated by touch sliders. We wonder why Volkswagen went this route given the criticisms levied at MyFord Touch and Cadillac CUE for their similar systems, but perhaps the Germans have cracked the user-friendliness code.
So, will Volkswagen actually put the GTE Active into production as a variant of the forthcoming Tiguan? Honestly, we doubt it. But it’s definitely reasonable to expect aspects of this concept to appear on the Tiguan that hits Volkswagen showrooms in 2017. For example, a plug-in hybrid is all but a given at this point, and Volkswagen has been making hay for a while now regarding futuristic infotainment and connectivity features. We would really like to see the suspension and tire package on this concept in production spec, however. Fingers crossed.