First Drive: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid
By Bill Schaffer

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo HybridSanta Fe, NM ? Volkswagen has built an interesting new variation of the hybrid that adds a higher level of excitement and drivability while still achieving 45 mpg.

I recently had a chance to spend some time in the new Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid at the high altitudes around Santa Fe, New Mexico.? Where I live, the elevation is only a couple hundred feet above sea level, so at the 7,000-foot plus elevations of Santa Fe and Taos, NM I am winded even walking a short distance.? Naturally, aspirated cars have the same problem and hybrids are even more susceptible, because most are powered by small economical four-cylinder engines.

The new Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid solves that problem at higher altitudes with turbocharging, and the result is not only impressive at altitude, it makes a significant improvement in performance at all elevations.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta  - Side???????? The Volkswagen Hybrid starts with the highly acclaimed Jetta sedan.? Visually the only distinctions are a hybrid badge, blue-highlighted VW emblem, a different grille, unique wheels and subtle aerodynamic enhancements.? The aerodynamic changes include a small trunk lid spoiler, front air dam, extended side skirts and some underbody trim panels. The aerodynamics package drops the Coefficient of Drag to 0.28 from the original Jetta?s 0.30 Cd.

Inside the traditional tachometer is replaced by a ?power meter? which keeps the driver informed about driving efficiencies, or lack thereof.

Volkswagen is not new to the hybrid business; there has been a Touareg Hybrid since 2010. ?The Touareg SUV performs its magic using a supercharged V-6, which in combination with the electric motor produces a walloping 380 horsepower and fuel economy of 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. ??It?s also quite fast accelerating for 0 to 60 in just 6.2 seconds.

The much lighter Jetta Hybrid uses one of VW?s latest EA211 series engines.? This small aluminum 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection and turbocharging produces 150 horsepower. ?Combined with the electric hybrid motor, the pair is rated at 170 horsepower and generates a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 8.6 seconds along with an estimated combined fuel economy of 45 miles per gallon.? The Jetta Hybrid also has a top speed of 125 mph.

Speaking of ?top speed?, even before the Jetta Hybrid found its way to VW dealers, it spent some time on the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Nevada.? There, Motor Trend magazine writer Carlos Lago drove a specially prepared Jetta Hybrid to a top speed of 185.394 mph to record the fastest speed ever achieved by a production-based hybrid car.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta - Interior????????? A majority of hybrids use a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which is very efficient, but often ?blaaaaa? to drive.? Instead, VW equipped the Jetta Hybrid with their efficient seven-speed DSG, a double clutch system.? The DSG shifts quickly helping to improve fuel economy and performance.? It also can be shifted manually for better control and more driving fun.

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta system uses the electric motor to start the car moving and it will continue to be the main source of power up to 37 mpg or about one mile, unless the accelerator is pushed harder or it?s going uphill.? During periods when the electric motor is powering the Jetta, the gasoline engine is disconnected to eliminate the parasitic drag.? If the battery is fully charged, the driver can select the ?E-mode? and the speed can go up to 44 mph and it allows for a little more aggressive throttle.

During maximum acceleration the electric motor ?actively boosts? the performance of the gas engine contributing to the acceleration.? The system also has a ?passive boost? state where the electric motor runs the accessories, like air conditioning etc., so the gas engine can send all its power to the wheels.

With the electric engine boost, the Hybrid feels very responsive and is a step up from most hybrids.? With its front struts, rear multilink and coil suspensions plus front and rear anti-roll bars, the Hybrid drives like a Jetta, and that?s good.?? The ride is taunt and body lean is minimal.? The car feels well balanced and steering feedback is good.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta - Dashboard Of course, the battery charging comes partially from regenerative braking, so the brakes have a little of that typical grabby feel that seems to accompany regenerative brakes, but they do stop nicely.

The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta?Hybrid comes in four trim levels: base, SE, SEL and SEL Premium.? Pricing runs from $25,790, including destination charge, for the base model to $31,975 for the plush SEL Premium, which includes features like Bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, Fender Premium audio and rearview camera.? It also includes a sunroof, navigation, and heated seats.

? ? ? ? ? ?The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid?takes much of the compromise out of driving a hybrid delivering the performance and handling of a normal gasoline-powered car. ?The VW Hybrid is a great option for someone that wants to save gas money and the environment without flaunting, ?I?m driving a hybrid.??? It?s also an option for people who aren?t quite ready to go the diesel route.? For me, I?d probably go with the Jetta TDI diesel, but the Hybrid is certainly an entertaining and environmentally sound option. ??2013 Volkswagen Jetta - Rear

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