A model, the Golf. Three Sport versions: GTI, GTE and R. With the ecological standards becoming more and more drastic every year, the future of sportsmanship at Volkswagen is bound to evolve. Some models may disappear. Can the hybrid be the solution? We make the point from Palma de Mallorca. At Volkswagen, it’s been 40 years that it lasts, the Sport versions of the Golf receive the badge GTI. Grand Tourism Injection. The symbol of accessible sportiness, for a model which nevertheless has continued to rise in range over generations. Always more efficient, but also more equipped and comfortable, the Golf has become gentrified. And new versions have even emerged: from the nasty “R” version to the hybrid “GTE”, sportiness at Volkswagen is now combined in the plural. At the time of the restyling of the seventh generation, it is time to take stock of the future of the best-selling sports compact in the world. Golf R The Golf has always positioned itself as a model a little apart from its competitors: VR6 in 1991, R32 in 2002. It is the only compact generalist to have dared the 6 cylinders under the hood, as well as equipment worthy of the premium . Even today, the situation continues with the Golf R, the Golf of all the superlatives: more horses, more driving wheels, and more noise than all the other sports versions of the range. And for its restyling this year , the power of its 4-cylinder Turbo increases further, reaching 310 hp. The novelty on this 2017 vintage is the adoption of the DSG 7 box. It gains one more ratio, for consumption down and performance up: 4.6 s from 0 to 100 (5.1 in BVM), it’s the time of a Porsche 911 Carrera! And what’s the sound with Akrapovic’s new sports exhaust system! The reverse of the medal, since January 1 in France, the Golf R is penalized with a strong penalty: nearly 2,800 euros with the DSG box. And even more than 7.000 euros with the manual gearbox! To add to the 45.000 euros approximately of our model of test. What to flirt with premium rates, which will prove quite unfortunate for the segment’s customers. With such a penalty, Volkswagen has even asked the question of whether to market in France, this Golf R manual version. For this year it remains in the catalog, but we can see that the situation becomes very complicated for some models. In a few years, the GTI will face the same problem! GTE: the future of the GTI? When the engines will no longer pass the ecological standards more and more drastic, the solution could well be the GTE. The GTE is the rechargeable hybrid version of the Golf. A four-cylinder petrol 1.4 TSI 150 hp is associated with a 102 hp electric motor. For a range of 50 km in 100% electric. And a combined power of 204 hp. Sporting characteristics, but an advantageous taxation. Result, 37,000 euros, including battery and all bonuses deducted. It’s right the price of a Golf GTI performance! It only remains to check if it supports the comparison with the GTI. Is this technology compatible with the sportsmanship that is expected of the GTI of the future? (Despite its respectable power, as a rechargeable hybrid, the GTE benefits from a bonus of 1.000 euros to which it is even possible to add an aid of 2.500 euros in case of scrapping a diesel vehicle registered before 01/01/2006). Golf GTI Performance Our standard meter of the day is the GTI Performance. In France, the GTI range has been simplified: the basic model is no longer offered, only this boosted version remains in the catalog. And this year, its 4-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo still wins a handful of horses: 245 total now. It will be hard for the GTE. First test: 0 to 100! Let’s see how with 40 hp less and 300 kg more batteries, the GTE is coping with a pure sport in the exercise of departure stopped. The conclusion is clear: thanks to the strength of its electric motor available immediately, the GTE starts almost as well as the GTI. But the cubic capacity makes the difference and the GTI takes off: 7.6 s for the GTE against 6.2 s for the GTI, not bad nevertheless, without offering the same auditory pleasure. GTI, Parallel GTE Side look however, the power of seduction between the two models is exactly the same! In fact with the 2017 restyling, the GTE is more similar to the GTI: same grille with honeycomb, same LED projectors. In addition to some subtleties, only “C” shaped daytime running lights distinguish the plug-in hybrid model. The differences are so subtle that each has its own badge, accompanied by a small border of color to be distinguished. It is finally from back that the difference becomes more obvious, with the double escape of the GTI. The report is identical on board: same sports seats, same sport steering wheel, same gearbox DSG double clutch. No more radicality on the GTI side, or elegance on the GTE side. Only a red signature for the GTI and a blue one for the GTE distinguish the two ambiances. Even the equipment offered is common, like the piloted suspension to choose between several driving modes. The difference is on the road The GTI Performance, however, has a particularity that already stood out from the GTI base: its added value is its self-locking differential controlled, delivered standard on the front axle. When in a curve, the system will accelerate the wheel outside the turn, to improve the traction and efficiency of the front axle. And in practice, it works great! Just like its brakes, oversized too. For once, the GTE can not keep up. But the GTE is not ridiculous at all. The batteries installed at floor level maintain a low center of gravity. The behavior is quite neutral overall: the front drivetrain quite well, and the body turns almost flat thanks to the piloted suspension. In addition, this hybrid version advances other arguments. The GTI wants to be conductible on a daily basis. But comfort level, the approval of this GTE is really superior. Not to mention the consumption of course. By recharging it every night, most users will be able to make a daily return to work without consuming a single drop of gas. And new this year: in “Hybrid” mode, GPS and road data are used in combination with the navigation system to optimally and predictively control the use of electric and gasoline engines. The car, for example, recognizes local entries and automatically switches to zero emission electric mode before arriving there. Result: the GTE is approved for 1.6 l / 100 km on average. Against 6.3 l / 100 km in mixed for the GTI.