Having established its sub-brand hybrid ‘GTE’ nameplate in the Golf, Volkswagen has subsequently transplanted it onto the Passat – adding a plug-in petrol-electric option to a line-up that has been staunchly diesel-only for the best part of a decade.
This makes sense. VW’s family saloon has always given its segment a polished and likeable bedrock, and the fact that it has never been the cheapest option means its buyers are unlikely to be automatically dissuaded by the premium associated with electrification.
The migration of the GTE badge is a thornier prospect from a marketing sense. Even in the Golf, the concept barely justified its positioning in the hallowed ‘Gran Turismo’ sphere; in the Passat – a model with no sporting pretensions whatsoever – the connection looks even more tenuous.
Accordingly (and doubtless aware that while this is among the most expensive Passats, it’s not the quickest or the most powerful variant), VW has dialled back much of the pedigree and performance rhetoric this time around.
Instead, sensibly, the emphasis is on the limited sacrifices required by switching from diesel to a mix of petrol and lithium ion.
The benefits are much the same as they are in the Golf: a moderate all-electric range, brisk acceleration, admirable (if misleading) claimed fuel economy and the low taxation prospect of 39g/km of CO2 emissions.