Come 2016, Volkswagen will debut an all-new seven-seat SUV, hailing from its Chattanooga plant in Tennessee. This is not it, rather it is a five-seat crossover that Volkswagen says directly previews that future ute, an evolution of the firm’s 2013 CrossBlue concept. Volkswagen calls it the Cross Coupe GTE and it makes its debut in Detroit.
Much like Volkswagen’s Golf GTE, the Cross Coupe sports a techy plug-in hybrid powertrain with fuel economy estimated at an impressive 70 MPGe. Up front, the Cross Coupe fits a 3.6-liter VR6 engine, good for 276 horsepower, paired with an electric motor that pushes out 54 horsepower. In the rear, a second electric motor (114 horsepower) relegates power to the back wheels, creating an electric all-wheel-drive system.
Volkswagen chief designer Klaus Bischoff notes, “The cross Coupe GTE is the ambassador of a new design language developed by Volkswagen for the US. The concept car has a commanding presence; it is powerful with a look that could almost be described as aggressive.”
Though a ‘coupe’ it is not. The five-door SUV rides atop VW’s MQB modular architecture, which does indeed underpin various Volkswagen Group two-doors. However the upscaled and pumped-up Cross Coupe visually feels more inline with the Porsche Macan, what with its sloping rear C-pillar, or the Jeep Grand Cherokee with its hard-cut angular styling and short overhangs.
Those aggressive looks appear to disclose some true off-road potential too. The Cross Coupe’s terrain management system features dial-in snow, sand and gravel functions, as well as driver profiles for recharging the battery, sportier powertrain response, and 20 miles of all-electric driving in E-Mode. Eco and off-road proclivities or not, Volkswagen says the plug-in Cross Coupe will jet to 60 mph in just six seconds.
We’ll have to wait and see what changes and what stays over the coming months before VW’s production seven-seater arrives in 2016. Though thanks to the vehicle’s transverse engine layout, there should be ample interior room as well as a bevy of powertrain options available when it does.