Detroit Motor Show: Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE

VOLKSWAGEN wants to cash in on the popularity of high-riding fastback SUVs, unveiling the Cross Coupe GTE concept at the Detroit Motor Show.

The third SUV-styled concept in three years from the German car maker, the Cross Coupe GTE comes across as a cheaper ‘premium rather than luxury’ version of BMW’s X6 and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLE.

It’s not the first time Volkswagen has looked at the popularity of expensive models and given its own spin to the idea. The Passat CC, for instance, is believed to have had Mercedes-Benz’s CLS-Class as its inspiration.

The plug-in hybrid-engined Cross Coupe GTE follows in the footsteps of the seven-seat CrossBlue and CrossBlue Coupe concepts revealed at Detroit in 2013 and Shanghai last year, and takes Volkswagen’s long-mooted US market seven-seat SUV a step closer to its late 2016 production deadline.

According to the car maker, the Cross Coupe GTE will travel about 30km on battery power alone. When the batteries start to fade, a 3.6-litre V6 engine, producing 206kW and 350Nm fires up – the car makes 250kW and 380Nm when that’s teamed with the two electric motors.

Why two? One electric motor produces 40kW and 220Nm at the front wheels, and also generates electricity for the battery, while the other, mounted at the rear and drawing exclusively on battery power, provides 85kW and 270Nm and is the only motive force in pure EV mode.

Only a whisker shorter than a Ford Territory, the interior of the concept car includes gesture-sensitive controls that, in one application, allow a passenger to swipe a hand across the dash to scroll through music titles displayed on the console’s large central screen.

The ‘GTE’ in the concept’s name refers to the vehicle’s sports-honed pedigree, which at the push of a button marked GTE sharpens up throttle response and steering, with drive provided both by the engine, which powers the front wheels exclusively, and the electric motors.

The Cross Coupe GTE includes an off-road mode that pushes drive to all four wheels when selected.

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