Monday, February 11, 2013

VW Jetta - Now Available in Hybrid

I just had a chance to try the new Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid. That's right. Besides the standard gasoline and TDI Diesel models, there's now a gasoline/electric hybrid model, and it's very good indeed.

The Jetta is just about the perfect size of car for most people. It's a spacious sedan, but doesn't take up too much of the road. It is trim and sharp and was redone in 2011 with Americans in mind. It is built, conveniently, in Mexico, so the import taxes are less.

The Hybrid model is new for 2013. It comes in four ascending levels: Plain, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. I was lucky enough to get the top level. If you want the plain version, you'll have to special order it.

The Hybrid looks like the "normal" Jetta, except for a few small items. It has a blue logo (blue is "green" in the automotive world, for some reason). It also has special badging and specific wheels and grille.

There are other things, though, under the skin, that make the Hybrid unique in the Jetta universe. The airflow is specially controlled for air coming under the hood. There are many aerodynamic changes, including a rear spoiler, front airdam, and, where you can't see them, various underbody devices to smooth the air around the car. This makes for a lower coefficient of drag (just .28), which is all part of improving miles per gallon.

The experience of driving a hybrid vehicle is pretty much the same everywhere. The car uses a gasoline engine and an electric motor to move down the road. The engine in the Volkswagen is much like that in a Toyota Prius, working much of the time but letting the electric motor take over when it's a good time to do it. Sometimes the engine and the motor work together, sometimes it's gasoline engine only. The car's computer controls it. Interesting that the electric motor, like the gas engine, is water cooled.

The driving experience is not diminished, as the 140-horsepower gas engine and the 27-horsepower motor are enoughto move the car along without struggle.

You can monitor your driving efficiency right on the dash. The left gauge in the Hybrid is configured to be a "Power Meter" rather than a tachometer. It starts out at zero, and then goes through a "green regenerator" section, followed by a zero, for when the gauge starts moving. There's a blue section after that showing the best times to be driving, using both gas and electricity. After that is a section of the gauge that shows engine activity only. At the far reaches of the gauge are the boost mode, when you're really high-tailing it and not worrying about efficiency.

This is a hybrid for turbo fans, as it says on the window sticker. One doesn't think of boost with a Prius, but the Jetta Hybrid offers some exciting performance potential. The small, single-spool turbocharger and intercooler are neatly integrated. The electric motor and clutch are partnered for efficiency, too. The car puts out a maximum of 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque at as low as 1,000 rpm when engine and motor are working. You get smooth acceleration.

To prove that the Jetta is no ordinary hybrid, VW took it to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for testing. A modified car set a number of records last October, and holds the H/PS class record—for production-based cars with engines of less than 1.5 liters that use forced induction—at 186.313 mph, as well as the highest top speed ever recorded for a hybrid, at 187.607 mph.

Efficiency? How does an EPA average of 45 mpg sound? I averaged 40.1 mpg during my test week. Interesting that the TDI Diesel Jetta I tested a couple of years ago (and a recent TDI Beetle) earned just over that--42 mpg. VW has more than one way to tackle the fuel economy issue.

This is an extremely clean car--with a 9 for Smog and a 10 for Greenhouse Gas, it earns the SmartWay Elite status from the EPA. See for more detailed information on the Jetta Hybrid--and every other car you can buy today.

The Jetta sedan is VW's entry-level car in the U.S. market, but the Hybrid is not that model. The basic Jetta starts at $17,515. The special-order base Hybrid model begins at $25,790. My SEL Premium model came to $32,010. All prices include $795 for shipping.

The Jetta has changed over the years, but today's model is sharp looking, fun to drive, and offers various ways to drive efficiently--and have fun doing it.


Anonymous said...

Whаt a verу good post аnd certainly helped clear mу heаd a bit

Feel free to surf to my web blog Pretty Jewellery for Boys
My page -

Brielle Franklin said...

I thought I heard that there was going to be a hybrid. I just recently found my Jetta TDI in the auto shopper and so far love it. I could not imagine a hybrid version of it though. Thanks so much for the interesting post.

Volkswagen Jetta said...

What else we want from such an esteemed company,out favorite car in hybrid version.Volkswagen designs and manufactures cult classic.On the grounds of looks and power,its cars are unbeatable.