Automobiles

Volkswagen celebrates 40 years of GTI with 400 horsepower GTE Sport plug-in hybrid concept

The automaker gets an early start on the GTI's 40th anniversary with the dramatic GTE Sport concept and a production-bound GTI Clubsport performance special edition.

Volkswagen

Update: It turns out that the GTI Clubsport is more powerful than we initially thought. We've updated this post with revised horsepower figures.

The Volkswagen GTI is turning 40 years old soon, and VW is celebrating the occasion with a new GTI Clubsport and the insane GTE Sport plug-in hybrid concepts.

The GTI Clubsport is only mild in contrast to the wild GTE Sport. The hatch -- presented as "a close-to-production concept car" at its Lake Wörthersee unveiling -- builds on the performance of the standard GTI's 2.0-liter TSI engine with the addition of a turbo boost function that temporarily increases the output of the powerplant for short bursts of speed. The engine's stated power grows to about 261 horsepower, but the boost function gives it a brief 10 percent boost to 287 ponies. That will make the Golf GTI Clubsport the "most powerful GTI to ever enter series production" according to Volkswagen's release. That's right -- VW is planning to build this special edition with a target production window of early 2016.

In addition to more power, the GTI Clubsport will feature unique aerodynamics, including a new bumper, new side sills, a new roof spoiler and a specially developed rear diffuser, all of which should work together to significantly improve downforce.

The GTE Sport concept is simply bonkers. The concept starts with a design that's not at all unlike the Design Vision GTI concept that debuted back in 2013 and the GTI Vision Roadster concept, stretching and squishing the GTI's hatchback proportions into a low slung, two-seat racer. The doors swing vertically revealing a futuristic interior. Its lightweight body is made of carbon fiber, and the concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain that outputs nearly 400 horsepower.

At the core of the GTE Sport's hybrid system is a 1.6-liter turbocharged and direct injected four-cylinder engine borrowed from a Polo R WRC rally car. On its own, the 1.6 is good for 295 horsepower (299 PS) and 295 pound-feet of torque (400 Nm).

The engine is joined by two 85 kW electric motors. The first sits between the engine and its six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The second electric motor can be found on the rear axle, which makes the GTE an all-wheel drive vehicle. Power for the electric motors is stored in a lithium ion battery pack.

Volkswagen

The GTE Sport can operate on purely electric power in its E-Mode with a 31 mile (50 km) silent running range. In its Hybrid mode, the gasoline engine contributes to recharging the battery pack and motivating the wheels. However, you're probably most interested in the GTE-Mode, a dynamic performance mode where all three motors go all-in. Total system specs are stated at 394 horsepower (400 PS) and 494 pound-feet of torque (670 Nm). Drop the hybrid hammer and the GTE Sport will hit 62 mph (100 kph) in just 4.3 seconds and go on to a stated top speed of 174 mph (280 kph).

Both concepts debuted at an annual enthusiasts' Ascension Day weekend event at Lake Wörthersee in Austria, where it has become a tradition for the automaker to unveil concepts and special editions directly to the most hardcore GTI fans.