This car uses green technology, not just to reduce emissions, but to go faster

Price: £33,035 (£28,035 with government grant)
Engine capacity: 1.4-litre petrol, plus electric motor
Power output (bhp): 201
Top speed (mph): 138
Fuel economy (mpg): 166
CO2 emissions (g/kg): 35

Until recently, hybrid cars were pretty sedate affairs. They were either for celebrities to be seen in, or they were the car your Uber driver arrived in. Now that's changing, with the latest hybrids ranging from McLaren's £866,000 P1 supercar to a string of saloons and hatchbacks from a range of mainstream car makers.

Enter Volkswagen and the new Golf GTE. Since the 1970s, the Golf has been the goose that laid the golden egg for VW, and the latest generation, the Mk VII, is an all-round brilliant machine. The GTE is its latest incarnation.

The idea is that if the all-electric VW Golf, which has a range of around 90 miles, leaves you worrying about broken charging stations and range anxiety, this new plug-in hybrid Golf GTE will tempt you. This, then, is a fast hybrid, a kind of Greenpeace-friendly hot hatch for polar bear-loving speed freaks.

The power comes from a combination of a 148bhp turbo-charged petrol engine and a 101bhp electric motor, which when combined can push out a maximum of 201bhp. The electric motor will charge in less than four hours from a domestic socket, or in just over two hours at a rapid-charging station of the type increasingly found at motorway service stations. This combination makes the GTE quicker to 60mph than the diesel-powered Golf GTD, while at the same time offering economy and emission figures to make a Toyota Prius blush, and leaving owners with a zero road-tax bill. If your daily commute is less than 31 miles (the electric-only range) this car offers incredibly low ownership costs and you could (theoretically) never fill up the tank.

However, this will depend on which of the five different drive modes you select, ranging from pure electric "E-mode" to "GTE", which uses the petrol and electric powers to make this green Golf very quick indeed. If you indulge in this burst of power, though, electric range will drop to nearer 20 miles and the promised economy will be impossible to attain. Critics will say that it doesn't live-up to the true heritage of the Golf GTI and doesn't deserve the first two letters of its name. But this car uses green technology, not just to reduce emissions, but to go faster, to make driving fun. And that's something to be celebrated.

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