Volkswagen Golf GTE (2015 – 2020) Review

Volkswagen Golf GTE (2015 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
If you want a car with class and sophistication, but you still like saving the pennies, then the idea of the Volkswagen Golf GTE will be very appealing indeed.

+Impressive speed and flexibility, enjoyable and comfortable to drive, fabulous cabin quality.

-Basic versions miss out on nav, less boot space than a regular Golf, short electric-only range by more modern standards.

Insurance Groups are between 17–27
On average it achieves 48% of the official MPG figure

If you also happen to live extremely close to your office, say within ten miles or so, then you’re just the sort of motorist whom the GTE could suit. A nightly charge should get you to work and back on electric power alone, and at the weekends, you’ve still got a perfectly serviceable family car for longer trips, so you won’t need a second car. It’s also a very enjoyable, comfortable and civilised car to drive and to sit in. A very worthy alternative to other mid-size PHEVs like the Audi A3 e-tron and Hyundai Ioniq.


The Volkswagen Golf comes in many different forms. S, SE, SE Edition, Match, Match Edition, R-Line, R-Line Edition, GT, GT Edition, GTI, GTI TCR, GTI Performance, GTI Clubsport, GTD, GTE, E, R: these are just some of the many monikers associated with Volkswagen’s all-conquering hatchback that signify various levels of equipment, power or sportiness.

However, within that vast bunch, you’ll notice the letters GTE, and that signifies rather more. That signifies that this version of the Golf is packing much more tech than your average hatchback.

And the tech in question is plug-in hybrid tech,  designed to give short-distance drivers all the benefits of an electric vehicle (or EV for short), while also completely eliminating range anxiety by also having a petrol engine to take over the reigns when the battery power runs out. Best of both worlds? Well, for the right sort of driver with the right sort of driving habits, it could well be.

For now, though, let’s park the fact that the GTE is a plug-in hybrid, and just consider its merits as a car. And even then, there’s a vast amount to like. For starters, it’s just as desirable as any other Golf.

It’s posh inside, it’s civilised and refined, and it’s enjoyable and as comfortable to drive. Sure, although it’s very quick, it’s not quite nimble enough to be the GTI-alternative that Volkswagen claims, but it’s still pretty darn good.

Like any other Golf, it’s also an ergonomic masterclass, with logical, easy-to-use controls and a fuss-free layout. Visibility is fab and equipment levels are decent, and that’s whether you’re talking about luxury kit or safety kit.

Granted, depending on the grade and age of the car you’re considering, you might not get sat-nav or Apple Carplay/Android Auto, and the boot isn’t quite as big as in a regular Golf, but otherwise, there’s very little to complain about with the GTE.

Not a cheap car by any means, but consider all the talent - not to mention technology - you’re getting for your money, it still feels well worth the outlay.

Ask Honest John

Is the Mercedes A250e a good plug-in hybrid?
"I'm thinking of buying a Mercedes-Benz A250e. Is there something you would recommend which is better? The 44 electric miles is the attraction."
As plug-in hybrids go, the Mercedes A250e is an excellent choice. If you're happy a PHEV is the right choice for you (i.e. you can charge at home and cover a lot of short journeys), we'd recommend it. If you're keen to try an alternative, look at the Volkswagen Golf GTE.
Answered by Andrew Brady
I need to commute long distances — should I get a hybrid or diesel car?
"I'm about to start a new job where I will need to drive up to 800 miles per week until I move house to be closer (expect this to be at least 3-6 months away). I'm looking to buy a 2015-2016 Volkswagen Golf GTE or a Golf TDi (would also consider a Polo). I also definitely want an automatic. Motoring is expensive here (the Netherlands), so I'm wondering what the cheapest and most economical option would be. Bear in mind that car tax is around €300 or more per quarter for the TDi but around €100 or less for the GTE. Petrol is more expensive than diesel, too. I've had a quick look and it seems insurance will be roughly the same. Which would you go for in terms of overall cost?"
There are a lot of things you need to consider. Will you have somewhere to charge the GTE at home where you can make use of cheaper electricity tariffs? When you move closer to work will it be a commute of less than 20 miles? Will you be commuting into a city centre where a low emissions zone is likely in the next few years? If the answers to these questions are yes, the GTE is the better bet. The diesel makes most sense if you'll be doing lots of motorway miles where it will be cheaper to run than the GTE, which isn't very efficient when its battery runs out.
Answered by Russell Campbell
What's the best, used plug-in hybrid?
"What are the best, used plug-in hybrids on the UK market currently?"
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a popular choice. It's very reliable and practical. If you don't need an SUV, consider something smaller like a Volkswagen Golf GTE or Hyundai Ioniq. You could also consider premium alternatives like the Mercedes-Benz C350e or BMW 330e.
Answered by Andrew Brady
The installation of a black box ruined my son's car - what should we do?
"My son bought a new Volkswagen Golf GTE in September for his commute to work. He changed his insurance to an RAC policy with compulsory Black Box. The car had played up a bit in the last few weeks and we were concerned that installing the black box might cause problems. We were right, it did. The box was installed on Tuesday and when he drove it to work on the Wednesday it played up. As the RAC installed it, they were called and said there was no problems. We arranged to take it in to the dealership on the way home and they have kept the car for investigations and analysis and lent him an Up in the meantime. When the service manager came to check the car this morning he found that it was completely dead; the battery had been flattened and it threw up a multitude of errors. When they tried to find the DIN socket to investigate the car, they found the installer had removed the DIN socket to attach the computer and butchered the car and hidden it up under the dash board. The service manager was horrified. The car is only coming up to seven weeks old. I'm horrified by the standard of care and way my son's car has been treated by the RAC. What do you think we should do? The installation appears to have effected some safety critical features of the car and my son is refusing to accept it back and wants it replaced with another car. It's been purchased in my name (as guarantor) and is on a private leasing arrangement with Volkswagen Finance."
Your son has no rights against the Volkswagen dealer for this. All his rights are against RAC Insurance who wrecked the car by the manner in which they installed the Telematics black box. This is totally the responsibility of RAC Insurance and they are liable to replace the car with a brand new one. He does not have to accept it back after being repaired because of the potential problems this may lead to.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Golf GTE (2015 – 2020) cost?