The GTE uses the 1.4-litre petro TSI engine producing 150bhp and 250Nm of torque, along with the 113bhp electric motor. Unfortunately, the overall performance isn’t a simple addition of the two; together these units can push out 215bhp and 400Nm of torque through the front wheels. These are still enough to make the GTE one of the most powerful sedans under Rs 50 lakh in India and then it only gets better with the pure electric mode, which is easier on the environment.
On a full charge, the car can do around 50km on electric mode and tops out at close to 130kmph, before switching on the petrol engine. During our test, we could only manage to do 34km on a full charge, but that was in the slow moving Berlin city traffic. Go full on the gas and the car seamlessly adds power by cranking the petrol engine, offering extra boost. Although, there is a lag before the power from the petrol engine is delivered to the wheels.
It starts as an electric car, if there is enough charge in the battery. There are modes to either continue running on electric or move to hybrid that offers a combination of the two power units or the GTE mode that delivers maximum power to the wheels. It requires some getting used to. For starters, there is no sound when the car starts and it continues to remain silent at cruising speeds unless you really step on the gas. Plus with the flat torque spread of an electric motor, the acceleration off the line is good enough to get you a head start at a signal.
In hybrid mode, the car keeps changing between petrol and electric trying to maximise the efficiency, whereas all the fun is in the GTE mode. It is a heavy car, but has claimed 0 to 100kmph time of 7.4 seconds. Floor the pedal and there is no doubt about that, as it comfortably gets to speeds of over 180kmph.
The Passat GTE has dynamic damping that when set to the Comfort Mode offers plush ride. Plus, there is Sports Mode, which apart from adjusting the suspension set up, also changes the gear shift points. It handles pretty well in sports mode, but you can feel the weight around the corners.
Another interesting option on the GTE is the ‘B’ mode on the transmission – this basically helps charging the battery while coasting. The resistance is so much that it feels like the car is braking on its own, which is why even the brake lights illuminate every time you get off the accelerator.
There are two other ways of charging the battery –the primary one that involves charging the car through power socket – it takes around 4.15 hours on regular socket or 2.30 hours on a high speed one. The other option is charging it via the engine like in the Camry, but that means additional load on the alternator and less efficiency.
The Passat GTE has a nice balance of performance and efficiency. For very day travel, it can be a sane and comfortable companion, yet offering more than enough fun on the longer drives.