The T-Prime Concept GTE, officially unveiled at Auto China 2016 in Beijing on Monday, is a premium off-roader with a hybrid powertrain and, according to Volkswagen, a car that not only gives a first clear idea of the company's next flagship, but of the direction in which the entire industry is moving.
Demand for SUVs and crossovers has never been greater and this demand is something that consumers in all markets around the world have in common. The crossover has usurped the compact hatchback as Europe's favorite car, SUVs are outperforming everything except for pickups in the US, and, according to VW's stats, the appetite for full-size comfort-focused SUVs is expected to grow some 18% over the next six years in China.
Unlike a number of recent VW SUV concepts, this one looks almost production ready and a worthy visual successor to the Touareg, right down to its impressive plug-in hybrid powertrain.
It's capable of outputting a combined 375hp, of running for 50km on battery power alone and of hitting 100km/h in 6 seconds. However, it also offers a potential NEDC cycle fuel economy of 87mpg.
The interior is also a very digital affair, with touch screens, voice commands and gestures; "this type of human-machine interface could become the norm in the top segment. Progress is immediately apparent here, because the real automobile is melding with the virtual world that is so real today," said Dr. Frank Welsch, VW's head of Technical Development.
Tosan Aduayi, a motoring journalist since 1994, is the founder and publisher of Trendy Africa Magazine and has reported on Motoring with trademark columns (Roadrunner, Carliners). He is also the founder of Flowtran global.