VW has made no secret of the fact it plans to offer an SUV in every relevant market segment. The latest example is the Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE which debuted in Beijing. Modestly longer and wider but lower than the current Touareg, this sleek, full-size SUV plug-in hybrid reportedly offers an early look at design themes and styling cues we can expect to see in that model’s  successor as well as in other C-segment-and-above VW sport utility vehicles. Based on the same modular longitudinal platform that underpins the new Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, the T-Prime Concept GTE also introduces a new digital interface that eliminates conventional buttons and switchgear.

The Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE borrows visual cues from the automaker’s China-only Phideon luxury sedan, and also introduces a host of new touches including the expansive chrome grille that integrates with its LED headlamps. According to VW chief designer Klaus Bischoff, this new face for its SUV product sub-brand features bold C-shaped LED running lights that will appear on all of the firm’s plug-in and EV models. Muscular character lines, a dramatic greenhouse, prominent wheel arches that cover equally prominent 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 285/40 tires, a sweeping dynamic roofline and elegant LED taillamps round out the design statement on the T-Prime Concept GTE -- features VW also plans on all of its expanded SUV contingent.

Full digital experience

The cabin of the T-Prime Concept GTE boasts a more progressive design. Conceived as a mobile living space for the modern connected world, it seats four in an environment that matches supple leather and fine wood with aluminum and gloss black accents. But the real story here is the introduction of a new interface technology that relies totally on touchscreens, gesture/voice control and various other touch-sensitive surfaces. The main dash – aka the Curved Interaction Area – is a single sheet of glass that houses the driver’s Active Info Display as well as a 15-inch high-definition monitor for the infotainment/navigation systems. Even the T-Prime’s multifunction steering wheel relies on touch surfaces for various inputs, which also are used to operate the transmission.

Motivation for the T-Prime Concept GTE comes from a VW’s latest plug-in hybrid setup that matches a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder TSI gasoline engine developing 248 horsepower with a 134-horse electric motor integrated into the housing of the 8-speed automatic transmission. Collectively, it turns out 375 combined ponies and 516 lb-ft of torque when operating in the most potent GTE mode. That allows VW’s slick SUV to sprint from 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 139 mph. Fitted with WV’s 4Motion AWD system that includes a limited-slip differential, the T-Prime Concept also can function as a pure EV in which the below floor-mounted 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides up to 31 miles on a single charge. In addition to conventional regenerative braking, the battery in the T-Prime Concept GTE can be replenished in eight hours using a 220V outlet and its 3.6kW charger or in just 2.5 hours at a commercial facility functioning at a 7.2kW rate.

Also: Class of 2017 -- New Cars Ready to Roll

It will be while yet before we see VW’s full-size SUV thinking transformed in production. But the first fruits of its global SUV offensive will launch later this spring in some markets in the form of the redesigned 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan.  That vehicle arrives here next summer in long-wheelbase form as a 2018 model. We’ll also be seeing both smaller and larger siblings to the Tiguan at some point, vehicles previewed earlier by the T-Roc Concept and the CrossBlue Concept.

More Concept Vehicles…

The Audi e-tron Quattro Concept previews the upcoming Q6 crossover

Mazda Koeru Concept offers a look at a new compact crossover model

Porsche Mission E Concept: a 600-hp EV on the fast track to production


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