Published on March 4th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
VW Sport Coupe GTE Concept
Volkswagen presented the Sport Coupé GTE Concept in a world premiere at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show and is presenting this avant-garde model as the champion of a new, progressive Volkswagen design language. “Evolution and revolution come together in the Sport Coupé GTE Concept. This concept is based on Volkswagen design DNA, which has been visibly sharpened even more. It shows how fascinating the highest-volume brand of our Group is shaping the immediate future,” says Walter de Silva, Head of Design of Volkswagen AG. Dr Heinz-Jakob Neußer, Volkswagen Brand Board Member for Development, explains: “This concept car is a breathtakingly dynamic coupé unlike any other to appear in this class. In the design of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept – that is, in the style of an exclusive sports car that is enriched by the added functionality of a large boot lid and the interior space of a four-seater – we see an impressive alternative to the classic saloons of the B and C segments.” Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen Brand, adds this: “The Sport Coupé GTE Concept is another milestone of expressive design. Unmistakably reinvented, from the first to the last stroke. A stylistic compass. In this concept car, Volkswagen is not only presenting the new design of a new model, but also initial glimpses of a new design era.”
The interior of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept is as innovative as its exterior. The extremely clean design, ergonomic perfection and new interactive interfaces between human and machine – including the use of the driver’s biometric data and a new Active Info Display with 3D look – combine to create an avant-garde atmosphere inside this coupé that is in complete harmony with its expressive exterior design. Not only is the car’s design innovative, its technology is as well. The GTE designation promises revolutionary drive system technology. Ever since the Golf GTE made its debut, these three letters have been used at Volkswagen to designate a car with a plug-in hybrid drive. The Passat GTE follows this year. These cars can be driven approximately 50 kilometres in an all-electric mode; and yet they can cover very long distances with confidence. This all happens with maximum dynamics; the vehicles are silent gliders, powerful cruisers. GTE versions are conceivable in all vehicle classes, such as in the SUV concept vehicle that was shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. In the Sport Coupé GTE Concept being revealed in Geneva, Volkswagen is adding a new facet to its GTE philosophy – a special avant-garde facet. The 279 kW / 380 PS GTE fastback delivers the long-distance properties of a Gran Turismo while simultaneously enabling zero-emission driving – thanks to its two electric motors and externally chargeable battery. The concept car, with a top speed of 250 km/h, has an average combined fuel consumption of 2.0 l/100 km.
GTE, the plug-in hybrid from Volkswagen. Its own class
Volkswagen differentiates between the B, C and D segments in the mid-size and premium classes. The latest Passat, for example, is setting standards in the mid-class, i.e. in the high-volume section of the B segment; the Volkswagen CC is positioned in the upper B segment; and the Phaeton, as a premium saloon, is a typical D segment model. The concept car being presented in Geneva is now breaking out of the upper B segment and into the C segment. Klaus Bischoff once again: “Internally, the Sport Coupé GTE Concept is a car that we position above today’s Volkswagen CC. We are enriching this segment with a premium design which is as exclusive as it is dynamic, and which casts the term avant-garde in a new light.” The Head of Volkswagen Design continues: “In developing the concept we had a specific goal in mind: This four-door sports car should be desirable; it should elicit an “I want to have it” feeling.
The engineering basis for the charismatic design of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept is once again provided by the modular transverse matrix (MQB) from Volkswagen. It makes it possible to implement fascinating proportions and ideal package dimensions. The most important of all of these dimensions is the ratio of the exterior length to the wheelbase. The concept car is 4,870 mm long, while the wheelbase measures a phenomenal 2,841 mm. This creates a very comfortable interior length of 1,871 mm and extremely concise body overhangs. The front overhang is 909 mm, and the rear 1,120 mm – each measured from the centre of the axle. At the same time, in this concept car Volkswagen has put a very low (1,407 mm high) and wide (1,865 mm) four-door coupé on large 21-inch wheels. Thanks to the MQB, the use of space in the vehicle is, as implied, excellent: Despite its dynamic dimensions, the Sport Coupé GTE Concept – which is fitted with a panoramic sliding sunroof – offers impressive front and rear headroom, for instance. The large boot lid – which cannot be recognised as such from outside – gives access to a 480-litre boot. Avant-garde without limits!
The Sport Coupé GTE Concept with its avant-garde appearance is taking the automotive world by storm. If it were to go into production, the four-door sports car would be attractive in price for people who need a car with more than two doors and enjoy perfected design. To develop a design statement like the Sport Coupé GTE Concept as an affordable dream all the way to production readiness is a challenge. But by developing the modular transverse matrix and a highly unique design DNA, Volkswagen has created all of the right conditions for taking this milestone car and turning it into a production car over the mid-term future. “Our entire know-how, a maximum of creativity, is bundled in the expressive design of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept,” says Klaus Bischoff. The chief designer continues: “A four-door coupé with the charismatic design of a sports car – this car occupies new territory and shows how many rich facets can be expressed by our new design language.” The dynamism of the avant-garde exterior design is accentuated by the distinctive exterior colour “Citrin Yellow”. “Citrin” is the name of a quartz mineral with yellow colouration. The paint contains what are known as xirallic pigments which – similar to quartz – glitter strongly when illuminated by a light source. Design details of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept:
Front end – radiator grille and headlights merge
In the Sport Coupé GTE Concept, the radiator grille, headlights and VW badge merge into a completely new interpretation of the Volkswagen front end more than ever before. The designers specifically emphasised three-dimensionality in its design and thereby created a body structure that projects an incomparably independent and extremely dynamic image. Towards its outer edges, the radiator grille unit borders the LED dual headlights that are deeply embedded and integrated into the front end. Each of them is framed by a radiator grille cross piece made of aluminium, whose ends take an upward turn – like the wing tips (winglets) of a modern jet aeroplane. The form of these winglets is repeated at various points of the exterior and interior, running as a common thread throughout the vehicle’s design.
Distinctive light design
In the case of the radiator grille, the uppermost cross piece with its winglets frames the inner LED modules (main beam & dot-pattern daytime running lights); the second cross piece wraps around the outer LED modules (dipped beam light & dot-pattern daytime running lights). The winglets also function as daytime running lights thanks to integrated bands of LEDs; the corresponding section of the upper cross piece also performs the turn indicator functionality by alternating its LED colour. The daytime running light signature of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept is completed by the C-shaped LED modules arranged around the lower air intakes (an identifying characteristic of electric and plug-in hybrid models from Volkswagen).
Six cross pieces for the radiator grille
Beneath the two upper radiator grille cross pieces, which extend across nearly the entire width of the front end, four other aluminium trim pieces follow. Each trim piece is narrower than the one above it, and together they form a wide “V” that is framed by body-coloured area of the bumper. To the right and left of this, the distinctive C-shaped signature of the daytime running lights are eye-catching.
Silhouette. The Sport Coupé GTE Concept is not a saloon; it is really a coupé with four doors and a boot lid. This approach led to a design that emphasises long, extended lines, a low overall height and an athletic body form. Just how uncompromisingly this conceptual philosophy was implemented can be clearly seen in the car’s silhouette: the roofline assumes the shape of a flattened curve extending from the A-pillar that is set far back (resulting in a very long bonnet) into the rear body. Dominating the rear part of the silhouette is the extremely low-set C-pillar, which develops seamlessly from the roofline. Fine details on the sides: air exhaust vent openings were integrated in the front wings and doors (and similarly in the bonnet); their chrome elements reiterate the stylistic theme of the winglets. Look further and they are also reflected in the 21-inch five-spoke wheels.
Side line and bonnet become one
Just how precisely the design of the concept car was created and executed is illustrated by two examples in the car’s silhouette. First, there is the line of the window sill. This line, which looks as though it were carved into the body is continued as a sharp edge into the wings, where it then merges into the winglet of the upper radiator grille cross piece and serves as the termination point of the four lower chrome trim strips in the radiator grille. Second, there is the character line. It runs below the window sill and is the most important line on the vehicle. At the rear, it is designed as what is known as an undercut. Here, the character line is drawn slightly outward; this is how the designers emphasise the strong shoulder section and generate a light-refracting edge. This undercut reduces gradually as it runs towards the front of the car. Here the character line extends into the front wheel arch. At the same time, it develops into the edge of the large bonnet, which even includes the front wings and the upper area of the wheel arches. When the bonnet is opened, the picture is one familiar from motorsport; in many sports cars, when the bonnet is opened, nearly the entire engine area is revealed. A pretty detail: fully recessed door handles.
The precision and attention to detail that went into the design of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept is illustrated well by a look at the side of the rear section. Here it can be seen that the roof line, including the line of the C-pillars – which projects an imaginary line through to the trailing edge of the boot lid – transitions directly into the vertical surface of the rear section. This is a stylistic characteristic of classic sports cars. The trailing edge, or rear spoiler, respectively, visually lengthens the car; laterally, the lower edge of the rear spoiler is continued above the rear lights and directly into the character line, and in this way it also extends into the shoulder section. It is the expressive image of a classic sports car that lends the four-door car its unique charisma here. The roof section tapers from front to rear, and this inward tapering creates space for a muscular shoulder section, which in turn transitions into the powerfully flared and uniform surfaces of the integrated wheel arches below the undercut of the character line. A sports car simply must look like this.
Like the headlights, the trapezoidal LED rear lights are designed with a 3D look; their light signature repeats the theme of the winglets. On each side of the vehicle, the basic lighting unit consists of two glossy black elements, in which the LEDs of the brake light as well as reflectors and LED glass inserts (for the rear lights and indicators) have been integrated. The red covers of the rear lights were executed in a three-dimensional design. At night, the black background surfaces of the basic lighting unit are not visible. This makes the illuminated LED elements appear to hover, and they create an unmistakable light signature.
Active Info Display with 3D visuality
The new interface modules of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept are appealing to the eye and a high-tech pleasure. The instrument cluster is a prototype of a newly conceptualised Active Info Display with 3D visual effect. The display has a 12.3-inch diagonal and was designed in such a way that the virtual space blends into the real border of the instrument cluster – this is done by a patented ambient light with a three-dimensional effect. No bordered black panel is visible, rather one sees a free-form surface, which interactively structures the three-dimensional space without perceptible borders. This attains a previously unknown high level of value. In its basic configuration, the digital instrument depicts two round instruments; on the left there is the power meter, on the right the speedometer, and in the middle a field to which a wide variety of information can be assigned for display. The new free-form surface makes the round instruments appear to hover in virtual space. The graphics of the displays change according to the driving mode (E-mode or GTE mode).
The touchscreen of the central infotainment system has a 10.1 inch diagonal; the area alongside this touchscreen also features sensitive sliders for climate control. Serving as the media control module for the rear seating area is a touchscreen (12.3 inch) that is integrated between the individual seats. It can be used to operate functions including the media library, telephone and navigation. Rear passengers can also control the two screens embedded in the backrests of the front seats (each 10.1 inch) via this media control unit. In addition, the sliders integrated alongside the 12.3-inch display can be used to operate the automatic climate control system (four-zone climate control).
Navigation recognises biometric data
For the first time, Volkswagen is interfacing the car’s electronics directly with the driver. Based on the driver’s biometric data, the Sport Coupé GTE Concept determines – via a smartwatch or armband for measuring the driver’s vital functions – whether to select a route leading to the destination that includes an ambitious and winding country road or a gentle route instead. Monitoring of biometric data begins as soon as the driver inputs the destination by speech control or on the touchscreen – but naturally, only if the driver wants to this data stored in the device be used as input for the navigation system. Time and distance are secondary factors here. In this navigation mode, which is individually tailored to the driver, the sole purpose is to experience maximum driving enjoyment. The navigation system recommends routes for this. The recommendations are displayed in lists or via Cover Flow; in this case, apps are used to show additional information and images of the individual routes, e.g. from Instagram. The driver can view the selected route in the infotainment system before heading out. Simultaneously, the driver gets detailed information on the type of route and on the traffic, weather and road conditions along the route. To get the most precise real-time information, the system evaluates the anonymised data (car-to-car) of other vehicles that are already driving on the same route ahead of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept. At the same time, the system compares route conditions to the vehicle state and its equipment. So, before the start, the Sport Coupé GTE Concept checks the vitality of the driver, the route conditions and itself.
The way in which a line from the dashboard and door shoulders appears to wrap around the four passengers like a cocoon is unique. The horizontally aligned dashboard – part of which is designed in carbon – is upholstered in leather at the top, and it uniformly transitions into the front door trim panels. In turn, the look of these panels is continued – both stylistically and in material selection – into the rear doors. From there, this cocoon element that surrounds the entire interior extends up to the interior trim beneath the rear window. The dominant interior colour is “Zermatt Grey”, which is a tribute to the sporty elegance of the winter sports venue of that name. An exclusive, open-pored wood named “Linea Walnut” is used in the lateral segments of the steering wheel trim and in the door trim panels as well as in the lower section of the centre console. Its wood grain follows the contours of the components. Combining wood and carbon elements with the “Zermatt Grey” interior colour further emphasises the progressive atmosphere of the interior.
Details of the dash panel
The dash panel is designed straightforward, clean and minimalistic. In the upper area, three slender and elegant aluminium slots function as ventilation openings. On the passenger’s side, a carbon accent extends between the aluminium slots. Running beneath them is a slender accent strip with a black piano paint finish. Another aluminium ventilation slot follows beneath the accent strip. It spans the entire width of the dash panel, and is only interrupted by the main instrument – the Active Info Display. Another aluminium trim strip that runs across the entire width completes the decor. It is stylistically continued into the door panels where it is transformed into the door handle as a “wing”. Another distinctive line is formed by the ambient lighting. The precise, thin line of light – with its variable colours – wraps around the dash panel (and into the front door panels), the central infotainment system and the centre console that extends into the rear seating area and thereby emphasises the contours in these areas.
Sports car centre console
The centre console rises towards the dash panel, like in a sports car, where it meets the infotainment system. Here too, elegant gloss-black and very thin aluminium surrounds are dominant styling elements. Forming a contrast to this, beneath the “hovering” design of the centre console, is a level that has the look of natural wood. The same material is found on the door panels and on the steering wheel. Practical details: to the right of the DSG gear knob are cupholders; cups placed in them can be kept warm or cooled. The gear selector lever for the 6-speed DSG is equipped with a shift-by-wire gear-shifting logic. Like a joystick, it normally remains in a central middle position. The R, N and D gear selections are activated by a short kick. The driver selects the P position by pushing a separate button that is integrated in the gear selector lever.
Plug-in hybrid drive
The Sport Coupé GTE Concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid drive system that is both economical and sporty. The combustion engine Volkswagen is using in the concept car is a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder direct-injection engine (TSI) that produces 220 kW / 299 PS of power and a maximum torque of 500 Nm. The electrical components consist of a lithium-ion battery (in the centre tunnel) and two electric motors – the front electric motor is integrated in the gearbox case of the 6-speed DSG (DQ400E), and it outputs 40 kW; the rear electric motor develops 85 kW of power. The total available system power is 279 kW / 380 PS. If necessary, the system drive power can be distributed to all four wheels thanks to the rear electric motor and an “electric propshaft”. In sporty GTE mode, the coupé, with a top speed of 250 km/h, accelerates to 100 km/h in just 5.0 seconds. Despite this dynamic performance, the concept car is a frontrunner in fuel economy. Its combined fuel consumption is just 2.0 l/100 km. In addition, the Sport Coupé GTE Concept can be driven all-electrically for a distance of at least 50 kilometres – and therefore with zero emissions. The total driving range of the concept car is over 1,200 km.
The concept car starts by default in Hybrid mode. The Sport Coupé GTE Concept is a classic full hybrid, which charges its battery via regenerative braking and automatically utilises the right combination of TSI and/or electric motors according to the specific drive situation. As soon as the driver releases the accelerator pedal, and the battery is sufficiently charged, all drive sources are shut off and decoupled from the drivetrain. This is a special form of “coasting”. Zero emissions are produced in this mode. If the driver releases the accelerator pedal or brakes, and the battery is insufficiently charged, the two electric motors operate as generators and feed the energy recovered from braking into the lithium-ion battery. In this case, the TSI is also shut off and decoupled. When the V6 engine is the sole source of propulsion, the concept car is a pure front-wheel drive car. Thanks to the efficient technologies of the car’s TSI engine the Sport Coupé GTE Concept is still very fuel-efficient, even in this drive mode.
In E-mode, which the driver activates by button push, only the 85 kW electric motor at the rear axle provides propulsive power. In all-electric driving, the V6 TSI is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging the clutch, and it is shut off. As soon as the six-cylinder engine needs to be used again – due to the battery’s charge state or other parameters – it is coupled to the drivetrain again within fractions of a second without any jolts. The lithium-ion battery, which has a capacity of 10.7 kWh, is responsible for supplying energy to the electric motors. The power electronics integrated in the front engine compartment manage the flow of high-voltage electricity to and from the battery and the electric motors. The vehicle’s 12-Volt electrical system is supplied with electricity via a DC/DC converter. The battery is charged from external electrical sources or while driving.
The driver presses the GTE button to switch to GTE mode, which activates a very dynamic side of the coupé. The accelerator pedal, gearbox and steering characteristics are now even sportier. In GTE mode, the TSI and electric motors also work together in ‘boosting’ which calls up the full system power and maximum system torque.
Battery Charge / Battery Hold
The dual mode Battery Hold (battery’s energy content is kept constant) or Battery Charge (battery is charged while driving) is activated from a submenu of the infotainment system. This mode might be used to intentionally enable all-electric E-mode at an urban destination in order to drive with zero emissions there.
All-wheel drive thanks to “electric propshaft”
As soon as the situation requires it, all four wheels of the Sport Coupé GTE Concept are driven. In this case (and if battery charge is low), the front electric motor – which is now being supplied with kinetic energy via the V6 TSI – acts solely as a generator and a source of electricity for its counterpart at the rear axle. Since the energy for driving the rear axle flows by wire and not mechanically here, this is referred to as an “electric propshaft”. Because the TSI drives the rear electric motor via the front electric motor, the all-wheel drive system also operates when the battery’s charge state is low.