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VW T-Prime Concept GTE

Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE Makes Beijing Debut

A full-size, technologically advanced SUV points to an upcoming Volkswagen product.

Make no mistake about it: the Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE (currently on display at the Beijing Motor Show) is giving the world a strong indication of an upcoming Volkswagen product, in particular a full-size SUV.

What isn’t known is whether the engineering and high-tech features present in the T-Prime Concept will carry over to the production model. What seems assured is that we’ll find an overall design based largely on the concept becoming a production reality.

About the Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE

The Volkswagen T-Prime Concept GTE or “T-Prime Concept” is quite a name. It was designed with global markets in mind, as VW cites an undisclosed forecast for 18 percent growth in China’s SUV sales from 2017 to 2023. Further, that same forecast estimates growth in Europe and Russia coming in as high as 26 percent.

In a press release, Volkswagen says, “The concept car previews the future Volkswagen SUV.” So, bank on this model coming to the market in some form.

The proposed SUV puts Volkswagen in a segment occupied by models like the Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. These competitors offer available all-wheel drive and three rows of seating, which the T-Prime Concept matches, although all-wheel drive is standard on the concept vehicle.

Exterior Design and Attributes

The T-Prime Concept has a long and bold silhouette. A distinct chrome radiator grille extends across the full width of the front fascia, seamlessly integrating the LED headlights.

Along its sides you’ll find distinctive body sculpting and multiple upper and lower character lines. Flared wheel wells, chrome touches and a tapered roofline provide a look that is both elegant and sporty. From the rear, an integrated liftgate spoiler, wraparound combination lamps, body sculpting and a diffuser are evident. If Volkswagen is aiming to reach GMC Acadia Denali customers, the stylish look is already there.

Interior Design and Features

Concept vehicles rarely show an interior that aligns closely with the production model. Nevertheless, Volkswagen emphasizes a few things about the T-Prime’s cabin conception which bear repeating.

The interior is dominated by horizontal surfaces that blend with aluminum trim and blue leather. Glossy black surfaces and wood accents complete the atmosphere that Volkswagen says “matches that of the connected, progressive, personal residence.”

Volkswagen’s designers dispensed with conventional switches, utilizing touch sensitive surfaces with white backlighting. Gesture control, proximity sensors and voice control are also utilized.

Other interior highlights include a digitalized instrument panel and infotainment display with a curved interaction area spanning the section in front of the driver like an arc. Notably, it also represents a design Volkswagen says will begin appearing in other VW products starting in 2017.

Also present is a 12-inch instrument panel screen with 3-D mapping when operated in navigation mode. A 15-inch infotainment head unit and 10.1-inch tablets snapping onto each backrest of the front seats are other tech features proposed.

Powertrain Possibilities

The T-Prime Concept is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. An electric motor is also present and integrated into the transmission housing.

This arrangement permits the SUV to travel 31 miles on electric power only while delivering 134 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The gasoline engine delivers 248 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. When full system power is needed, an explosive 516 pound-feet of torque is at the ready.

When operated in GTE mode (Grand Turismo Electric), this SUV goes from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. The battery can be fully recharged in as little as 2 hours and 30 minutes. Volkswagen says that fuel economy ranges from 29 mpg when operated in hybrid mode to an equivalent of 87 mpg when operating solely on electric power.

Other Volkswagen Concepts

The T-Prime Concept is the largest SUV we’ve seen from Volkswagen. Currently, the automaker builds the compact Tiguan and the midsize Touareg.

In July 2014, Volkswagen announced plans to build a new midsize SUV at its U.S. manufacturing plant, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That model is based on the CrossBlue Concept and comes in slightly longer and wider than the Touareg.

Yet another concept is the Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE, a midsize vehicle that seems destined to replace the current Touareg, although the Touareg name most likely will prevail. Like the T-Prime Concept, the Cross Coupe GTE is a plug-in hybrid, but it comes outfitted with a 3.6-liter V6 engine and two electric motors. Gasoline and plug-in hybrid variants would enable Volkswagen to extend its market reach.

Volkswagen: Looking Ahead

Volkswagen has made its intention to provide “an exciting SUV in every relevant market segment.” That means we will eventually see multiple SUVs as the automaker decides to cover the subcompact, compact, midsize and full-size segments.

All this news comes from a manufacturer that has long trailed its competitors in the U.S. market, but may finally deliver a rich product mix for consumers to eagerly embrace.

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