This is VW's latest crossover concept, the Cross Coupe GTE. Shown at the Detroit Auto Show as a proof of concept vision, it hints at the next generation of Volkswagen's crossovers and SUVs.
The GTE label – which is the new moniker for high-performance, plug-in electric VWs – is significant, and something we've already seen on the production Golf and are about to get on the production Passat too. The idea, perhaps obviously, is that it is a nice foil to the company's famous GTi badge seen on the performance Golf and petrol. E standing for electric, whereas i represents injection.
But this is just a concept car, so isn't the powertrain is a bit of a moot point? Well, the 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors are a reasonably safe bet for production, at least in the USA – where VW lags behind the market leaders for hybrid and electric powertrains.
The Cross Coupe GTE measures just over 4.8-metres long, and over 2-metres wide. That's the biggest clue to why we might not see its like in Europe, because its width makes it rather too big for our weeny roads. For those of us on the European side of the pond, expect to see a somewhat downscaled version of this car in the future – like the original Cross Coupe concept shown back in 2011 and 2012.
Outside, it shows Volkswagen going more aggressive, with a new and much more imposing grille, complete with bars which run into the elements in the headlamps to create an integrated front look.
One thing that stood out to us when looking at the car up close was just how sharp the creases were in the panels – almost like they could cut you. It's VW showing its prowess in production and metal-stamping technology, as creating such sharp folds in metal is hard work and expensive. As other companies chase VW's semi-premium, quality image crown, it seems the German company is aiming to stay one step ahead in subtle ways.
Inside, the 5-seater GTE is airy thanks to a glass roof, and light-coloured leather seats. Most interesting to us though, is the fully digital cockpit arrangement. In the driver area you get three TFT LCD screens. The traditional VW gauges are rendered in digital form (wouldn't it be nice if they tried something different, given the possibilities a screen allows though?).
The centre touchscreen is neatly integrated into the swathe of black shiny plastic that runs across the dash to the passenger side. In the concept car, it was showing neat graphic displays, demoing the connected qualities VW is aiming to bring with its next generation of tech, such as predictive satnav.
Below this screen, the normal heating controls have been replaced by a screen allowing you to control the heated (and cooled) seats and the cockpit temperature. Even the neighbouring air-vents are worth a look – horizontal, thin outlets cut into that shiny black dashboard element.
Expect a production version of the Cross Coupe to go on sale in the US and China in late 2016 or early 2017. It's a car that can't come soon enough for VW, as it's losing out to competitors already deep into production of such cars in this very popular segment.
We'll just keep hoping that the sharp suit and neat interior tech setup make it to the production version of Europe's next Tiguan, too. Albeit at a smaller scale.