Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept First Look
Though Volkswagen is taking its sweet time readying the seven-passenger crossover first shown in the form of the CrossBlue concept in early 2013, the automaker is inching closer to the launch of that important model. At the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen is showing off yet another variation of the CrossBlue, the five-passenger Cross Coupe GTE.
Like the Golf GTE released for Europe, the Cross Coupe GTE concept is a sporty plug-in hybrid. Unlike the Golf GTE, however, the Cross Coupe GTE uses a 3.6-liter VR6 narrow-angle V-6 producing 276 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The concept's internal combustion engine is joined by two electric motors, making 54 hp and 162 lb-ft in the front; and 114 hp and 199 lb-ft in the rear. Combined system output is 355 hp and 280 lb-ft, which VW estimates is enough for acceleration to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.0 seconds, and on to a top speed of 130 mph. Instead of housing a driveshaft, the center tunnel holds a compact 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery. However, Volkswagen maintains that the concept still utilizes an "electric driveshaft" thanks to the rear-motor all-wheel-drive setup. VW estimates fuel economy of 70 MPGe.
The Cross Coupe GTE is the third concept from Volkswagen previewing its upcoming production crossover, and as such it bears a resemblance to the original CrossBlue and the CrossBlue Coupe shown at the 2013 Los Angeles show. However, VW says the Cross Coupe "marks a break with the previous concept cars and thus increases the momentum toward series production." The automaker also stresses that this concept's front end gives us a better idea of what to expect from the production seven-seater when it hits production at VW's Chattanooga plant by the end of 2016. That front end features headlights, turn signals, and a grille that are integrated seamlessly. The grille is framed by two aluminum bars, which are polished at the front and brushed on the top. The concept's overhangs give it off-road-worthy ramp breakover, approach, and departure angles. In back are horizontal taillights and a skidplate with an integrated diffuser. The crossover rides on 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 285/40-size tires.
The Cross Coupe GTE concept's interior also previews VW's future design language, and draws inspiration from the German Bauhaus movement, according to the automaker. Front and center is a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is flanked by two sets of vertical HVAC vents. The gesture control functionality VW recently debuted at CES is put to work in the Cross Coupe, with proximity sensors placed in the cabin to pick up specific movements. For example, passengers can swipe through the air to browse and play songs. Depending on the driving profile selected (Snow, Sport, On-Road, or Off-Road), the look of the screen and graphics will change. Navigation can be displayed in two or three dimensions. With the 3D view selected, three or more maps can float above one another, each showing something different -- from Points of Interest to directions to altitude. The instrument display is a 12.3-inch screen with 1440x540 pixel resolution, and graphics that change depending on mode selected.
Those modes include Hybrid, E-Mode, Off-Road, Battery Charge/Hold, and a performance-oriented GTE setting. In the all-electric E-Mode, the Cross Coupe concept has a range of up to 20 miles. GTE mode increases throttle, transmission, and steering response, and coaxes the full output out of the gas engine and electric motors. Off-Road mode puts the crossover in full-time all-wheel drive, with the front electric motor acting as a generator to provide power to the rear.
Because of the MQB platform's modular nature, Volkswagen says that a wide range of drivetrain options -- including the Cross Coupe GTE's plug-in hybrid setup -- is possible. It also hints that a production version of this concept could be built, possibly with other available drivetrains. That will have to wait until after the seven-seater arrives late next year, but things are looking good for VW fans in the market for a more-entertaining plug-in crossover.