The new Volkswagen C Coupe GTE concept debuting in Shanghai may at first glance seem to be a repeat showing of the Geneva show’s VW Sport Coupe Concept, but this China-focused variant tells us much more about the future of Volkswagen upper-echelon range.
While the taut, Audi-esque design is more or less the same as the Geneva car’s, the Volkswagen C Coupe GTE’s greater size, different platform, and economical plug-in powertrain point the way forward for Volkswagen high-end expansion. The C Coupe GTE is the first Volkswagen model to ride on the company’s modular longitudinal matrix (MLB) platform. If it were to reach production, Volkswagen says it would slot in between the Passat and the Phaeton.
“The future of the new Volkswagen premium class models is starting in Shanghai because the C Coupé GTE very clearly shows the new ‘face’ of top Volkswagen sedans for the first time,” said VW brand chief designer Klaus Bischoff in a statement. “This sport sedan unequivocally demonstrates our premium standards. The evolution of the Volkswagen design DNA shown here will accompany us worldwide, and on the way to the new Phaeton.”
This concept also features a special chauffeur mode, which relays appointment and navigation information to the driver from the occupant’s smartphone. While this and many of the concept-car lighting features—like the illuminated front emblem, grille crossbar, and retractable door handles—may not make it to production, it is clear that the final production version of the Volkswagen C Coupe GTE will place a big emphasis on style.
Inside, the car’s interior is almost identical to that of the Geneva Sport Coupe concept. High-quality leather, steel trim, wood detailing, and advanced infotainment and instrument cluster displays nestle neatly into the horizontally arranged cabin. The rear seating area, designed for even greater comfort than up front, features a champagne cooler between the pair of rear seats.
Like the A6 L e-tron, the C Coupe GTE has multiple driving modes: E-Mode for all-electric driving, Hybrid for both gas engine and electric motor-driven power, GTE for sportiest driving characteristics, and Battery Charge/Battery Hold to maximize energy replenishment.
What the Volkswagen C Coupe GTE concept confirms is that that there is a larger, CC-like model headed for a more upscale place in the VW lineup, especially in China. The upcoming CC bound for the U.S. or Europe may focus more on performance, as the 3.0-liter direct-injected gasoline V-6 and dual electric motors from the Geneva concept suggest.