Every day we see more and more electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars on European roads.
Produced by an ever-increasing number of automobile brands, which boast circles of loyal customers who stick to their brand of choice, these vehicles are reaching bigger audiences faster than ever before. Only a glance at this issue of Plugin Magazine will reveal that Mercedes, Volkswagen and Audi, which will soon be joined also by Ford, have started the journey to win the hearts of "electric" buyers. True, Mercedes may have already marketed its S-Class plug-in hybrid, but because it was sinfully expensive, even without the "electric" addition, very few people were able to afford it. Its C-Class plug-in hybrid is much more accessible but, price aside, it is usually also better equipped, and comes with an automatic transmission. Automatic transmission? Yes, the number of cars that combine hybrid powertrains and classic (or dual-clutch) automatic transmissions is on the rise. The times when hybrids featured only continuously variable transmission are over — very few people really liked them, while other potential buyers were discouraged to buy the car due to their unpleasant noise.
For years, the most popular among the production automatic transmissions has been Volkswagen's dual-clutch transmission (DSG). Known for fast shifting that goes by unnoticed, it also prides itself on better fuel economy, when compared to classic manual transmission. Therefore, it is no surprise that Volkswagen waited before coming out with a combination that is good, economical and, what's most important, a part of daily life.
Golf GTE and Passat GTE, and also the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron can travel up to 50 kilometers in all-electric driving, at which point they switch to a decently powerful engine that is governed by a better-than-average automatic transmission. No longer electric, the drive feels ordinary and simple. Why am I writing this? Because it is more than obvious that the market is filling with cars that offer the sort of easy driving that we've grown accustomed to, but that are now also eco-friendly. By meeting the needs of the dynamic, but ecologically-minded, driver, these cars are no longer a burden, but a joy to drive.
I can now say with confidence that I look forward to enjoying these cars myself. The decision to buy such vehicles has become that much easier.
European Car of the Year Jury Member