Volkswagen shifts economy gears with Tiguan hybrid

System uses two motors, one in the rear and one in the transmission

Published: January 12, 2016, 5:30 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:16 PM

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

Still reeling from the scandal surrounding false positives on emissions tests of its diesel engines, Volkswagen has taken a different tack in its voyage of fuel-economy discovery with the introduction of a Tiguan hybrid concept.

The Tiguan GTE Active Concept features a plug-in hybrid system that uses two electric motors (one each at the front and rear) in support of a gasoline engine to supply power to all four wheels on demand, at the push of a button.

Based on the second generation Tiguan, which is due to arrive in North America in 2017, it uses the added length of the new Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform to house the 12.4 kWh battery under the cargo area floor (removing the possibility of a third row bench, which is one of the selling features of the new Tiguan).

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept hybrid cutaway

Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine that supplies 148 hp only to the front wheels. That’s significant because if the lithium-ion battery is ever depleted to the point that it can’t provide any juice to the motors, the engine can still drive the rear wheels for 4-wheel drive through an “electric driveshaft” — it acts as a generator to send current to drive a rear 85 kW motor.

Front power is also supplied by a 40 kW motor (integrated with the 6-speed dual clutch transmission) with the two motors operating independently of each other. The combined net horsepower for the entire system is 221 hp.

The way it works is that the Tiguan GTE starts off in purely electric rear drive propulsion with the front wheels chiming in as needed to provide motivation. The gasoline engine can come online as the driver’s right foot demands it. When the driver comes off the accelerator pedal, the engine and motors disengage from the drivetrain (provided the battery is sufficiently charged) and the vehicle “coasts” along.

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept interior

A centre console dial/button allows the driver to choose different driving modes (On road, Offroad, Sport, Snow, Charge and Battery Hold) and further adjust which wheels are powered as dictated by traction and or intent. For example, in “On road” mode, the driver can choose comfort or economical driving; in Offroad mode the 4WD can be adjusted to handle Rocks, Sludge & Sand or Gravel). Charge mode charges the battery during driving, and Battery Hold maintains a constant battery charge.

The 4WD modes take advantage of increases in ground clearance — 225 mm under the axles and 244 under the body (each up 45 mm from the current Tiguan) — and angles of approach and departure of 26.1 and 29.9 degrees, respectively.

The vehicle can travel up to 32 km on electric power alone (up to a speed of about 112 km/h) and has a full range of over 930 km when you factor in a full tank of gasoline (64 litres). Top speed is limited to 193 km/h, and under full acceleration, it can go from zero to 100 km/h in about 6.5 seconds.

Also functional for off-roading, but infused with a bit of style, are roof mounted integrated LED off-road auxiliary lights, matte aluminum/black polymer skid plates, bright aluminum tow hooks front and rear, upgraded dark polymer bumpers and graphite wheel arch extensions, and knobby 245/70R16 off-road tires.

Driving technologies include autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian protection, lane keeping assist and head-up display. It also has a new infotainment system with a 9.2-inch high-resolution touch screen that can also be operated through intuitive gestures, and touch slide controls for all interior features.

The interior is customized to match the exterior with aluminum trim strips, dark-chrome accented steering wheel, Dragon Red vent frames to match the exterior colour, grey/graphite upholstery to match body add-ons, and graphite/aluminum door trim panels to match the underbody panels.