Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE: Mid-size SUV of tomorrow
While it was speculated that Volkswagen would show a production version of its long awaited 3-row mid-size SUV, it instead brought the third concept in a series crossovers, this one still a 2-row 5-passenger model called the VW Cross Coupe GTE. The German automaker did promise that this vehicle gives an idea of the design language that will be incorporated in the mid-size 7-passenger SUV when it goes into production at its Chattanooga, Tenn., plant by the end of 2016.
"Numerous details hint at how we envision a future production SUV model for North America," said Klaus Bischoff, VW's chief designer. "The underlying concept combines German engineering and design with a vehicle that suits the American lifestyle. That means high efficiency, clear and powerful design, logical operation and supreme quality-combined with lots of space, superior performance and outstanding comfort."
Using the GTE nameplate to signify its plug-in electric hybrid powertrain, the Cross Coupe is based on VW's flexible MQB architecture and features a 276-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine combined with two electric motors producing 54 and 114 horsepower respectively to drive all four wheels. However, when the engine only is driving the vehicle it does so through just the front wheels. Combined system output is 355 horsepower and the Cross Coupe has an estimated fuel rating of 70 MPGe. The powertrain allows the vehicle to operate in pure EV mode for up to 20 miles and is also capable of 0-60 mph acceleration of just 6 seconds.
In true concept car form, VW Cross Coupe GTE rides on massive 22-inch wheels, however, the exterior dimensions, 190.8 inches in overall length, 68.3 inches high and 79.9 inches wide are fairly close to production spec. The exterior design is aggressive, with strong and precise character lines, while the headlamps, turn signals and radiator grille mesh together seamlessly. In profile, the vehicle has short front and rear overhangs and strong wheel arches underscoring the off-road capabilities of the SUV.
New take on the interior
The VW Cross Coupe GTE also previews the company's approach to interior design using a 12.3-inch screen for the instrumentation complemented by a 10.1 center console screen that relies on touch and gesture to control infotainment and other vehicle systems.
The wing-like dash, which is bordered in Ink Blue Nappa leather to complement the Grand Pacific Glacier Blue exterior, is anchored on either side of the vehicle by horizontal polished aluminum air vents. This new architecture gives the appearance of the infotainment and instruments as being a single unit despite the separate screens. Graphics on the instrument panel also change depending on the vehicle's driving mode: Snow, Sport, On-road and Off-road. Navigation is also displayed in either 2- or 3-D form.
"The Cross Coupe GTE is the ambassador of a new design language developed by Volkswagen for the U.S.," Bischoff observed. "Regardless of whether you imagine the Cross Coupe GTE in Manhattan, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in California or in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, this SUV looks upscale everywhere."