In the middle class, the overwhelming pressure to reduce CO2 will lead to the massive rise of plug-in hybrid cars. The 95 g / km limit cannot be met even with modern diesels, so there will be no choice but to connect a partial range from a socket to the internal combustion engine, which will reduce emissions in the mathematics of test cycles below 50 g / km. The Volkswagen Passat has been offering such a drive for several years and is constantly innovating it. But it should be added here, the competition is not sleeping.
The combination of two drives in one car is logically extremely expensive, so it has so far been used in the middle class mainly by prestigious brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. Apart from the premium club, only three other models wear the abbreviation PHEV: the Kia Optima, the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Volkswagen Passat tested today. The archetype of a managerial company car that, together with large Western companies, bears the burden of reducing CO2 in everyday life.
In the Czech Republic, therefore, it may surprise everyone that it has been offering plug-in hybrid technology under the acronym GTE for six years now. Last year, it underwent a modernization, during which the battery capacity increased by a third. Thanks to this, 50 km of electric range no longer shines only on paper, but is realistically and easily achievable in live operation. Passat also defended him in hilly Prague, so we can say without any worries that he will be able to make daily commutes to a 25 km distant office there and back. Only after the energy is depleted from the network will the 1.4 TSI petrol connected to the six-speed automatic system be heard under the hood.
Otherwise, however, the propulsion system remained unchanged and it must be said that the passing time and the arrival of newer competitors reveals more than one compromise in its arrangement. First, not entirely predictable reactions to the accelerator pedal. The electric motor starts late and busy, so maneuvering or parking on a hill requires a little caution. The car starts on electricity even in hybrid mode and the front wheels spin under the throttle in a hurry, but the fourteen-hundred-liter load loaded from low speeds is immediately added hesitantly and the whole looks out of tune. You will not enjoy the agile starts from the traffic light much, it is better to adapt and slow down.
This also applies to the overall driving dynamics. The fourteen-hundred would not make the Passat a fast car on its own, let alone the GTE hybrid is three meters heavier. With a more lively style, the machine often downshifts and pushes the internal combustion engine to high speeds, which does not contribute to smoothness or consumption. Although the maximum speed of 222 km/h and the acceleration to one hundred in 7.6 seconds have a quick effect on the paper, live overtaking of the truck needs to be planned with reserve.
The interplay of both engines is contradictory in terms of fuel consumption. A good hybrid can be recognized by the fact that it can cleverly manage energy even after discharging electricity from the grid. Technically speaking, it is best to separate the speed and load of the internal combustion engine from the driving speed using a specific hybrid transmission. The Passat GTE, on the other hand, relies on parts from conventional gasoline models in an effort to produce synergies – a dual-clutch automatic transmission with fixed gear ratios and a small supercharged engine whose efficiency is beneficial at low loads but deteriorating rapidly under gas.
If we translate the previous paragraph into Czech: after discharging electricity from the network, the hybrid Passat is no more economical than petrol. During the test, we drove a little over 300 km around Prague with a discharged car, followed by a road on the highway through the Vysočina region to Kutná Hora and back. The result was a consumption of 6.2 l / 100 km, which reflected a smooth and predictable style. Under heavier gas, the consumption easily jumps to 7.5 liters and higher. This is definitely more than the diesels that still rule company car fleets. When we recently tested the plug-in hybrid Ford Kuga, we surprised us by consuming less than 5.5 liters in identical conditions.
Volkswagen Passat Variant GTE Specs
- Internal combustion engine: petrol 4-cylinder, 1395 cm3
- Power: 115 kW at 5500 rpm
- Torque: 250 Nm at 1600 rpm
- Electric motor: 85 kW, 330 Nm
- Top speed: 222 km / h
- Acceleration 0-100 km / h : 7.6 s
- Combined consumption: 1.6 l / 100 km
- Trunk volume: 410 l
- Price: from CZK 1,180,900
You may be wondering what the idea is to test the plug-in hybrid and not charge it all week. But fleet practice shows that this is nothing special. As part of various company commitments, the hybrid is often fascinated by employees who travel long distances on the highway and spend working hours in meetings in the field with customers. They have little time or opportunity to charge, moreover, the construction of hybrid cars does not make their use easier.
The Passat GTE’s internal charging “transformer” processes only 3.6 kW from the mains, which corresponds to a 220-volt garage socket with a 16-amp circuit breaker. So even if you put it on a public stand with a power of 22 kW, it will take only 3.6 kW again and charging takes three and a half hours. A more powerful voltage converter is not available even at an additional cost, let alone the DC connection for quick chargers, which the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has had as standard for seven years.
We get to the price with user worries. You get the GTE version with Elegance level equipment and a few extra details for CZK 1,180,900. This looks like a lot of money, but a similarly equipped 2.0 TDI with a vending machine will now cost – CZK 1,012,900, ie only CZK 168,000 cheaper. It is an obvious attempt to motivate corporate customers to buy a hybrid, because selling a car with 36 g / km of CO2 means less existential threat than selling a diesel with 112 grams.
Unfortunately, this clearly shows how today’s policy pits carmakers against their customers. From the above, it follows that GTE in the company is suitable for someone who does not drive much and has time to charge. If this technology is to be promoted in fleets at all costs – and this has been the tax advantage in Britain or the Netherlands in recent years – it will lead to an increase in travel costs and, by the way, to an increase in real CO2 emissions. This is true in general, regardless of the fact that the Passat does not offer the best tuned and most effective technique among today’s hybrids.