Detroit 2016: This is what a VW Tiguan GTE looks like as a serious off-roader

Just hours before we see it in the metal at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen has released pictures of its beefed-up Tiguan GTE Active Concept.

With all eyes on Volkswagen in the wake of the dieselgate emissions scandal, the manufacturer will be pleased to have a plug-in hybrid to shout about at Detroit’s Cobo Centre.

The firm revealed the new Tiguan at last year’s Frankfurt show, and alongside it a GTE plug-in hybrid version. This is simply an off-road version of that car.

Using VW’s MQB platform, the GTE Active Concept combines a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine with two electric motors to produce 221hp. This is distributed to all four wheels via Volkswagen’s 4motion all-wheel-drive system and a six-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Depending on the driving mode, the GTE Active Concept can be driven by the front, rear, or all four wheels.

If the battery is sufficiently charged, it’ll default to using the rear electric motor in zero-emissions mode.

When the driver demands more, the front electric motor can kick in within a fraction of a second – providing an electric-only range of up to 20 miles and a top speed of 70mph.

When required, the turbocharged TSI petrol engine will distribute power through the front wheels.

Will we see a production version?

Are we going to see a production version of the Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept?

Plug-in hybrid versions of the Golf and Passat are already on sale in the UK, so it’s logical that we’ll see a Tiguan GTE in the future.

Volkwagen revealed a Tiguan GTE concept alongside the production car at Frankfurt – so what are all these off-road gubbins about?

The firm says “off-road design elements of the body are technically feasible as options for production cars,” so expect to be able to spec your Tiguan with increased ground clearance, skid plates and wheelarch extensions, should you so wish.

You might not associate mud-plugging with green hybrid vehicles, but the GTE Active Concept’s powertrain will actually help in the rough stuff.

If the driver selects ‘off-road’ mode, the rear motor acts as an ‘electric propshaft’. Rather than shifting a lever to send power to all four wheels like a traditional off-roader, the engine and front electric motor provide the rear axle with electricity ‘by wire’.

There are extra features that willl help the Active Concept off-road, too – such as ground clearance boosted by 45mm. This helps to improve approach and departure angles: from 25.6 to 26.1 degrees in front, and from 24.7 to 29.9 degrees at the rear. The maximum ramp angle (for overcoming particularly challenging speed bumps) increases from 20 to 24.7 degrees.

What else is new?

What else is new?

The GTE Active Concept isn’t all about its off-road ability. Inside, there’s a new infotainment system with a 9.2-inch display.

It uses clever gesture control technology in place of buttons, and can integrate smartphone apps – including Mirror Link, Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay. And, in the Active Concept, it can display off-road features such as a compass and elevation indicator.

The new infotainment system could make its way into production models as soon as the facelifted Golf, due later in 2016.