2013 Volkswagen Jetta 2.5L HighlineView Vehicle Profile
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid puts the fun in hybrid
As with any hybrid, it’s all about fuel-efficiency, but VW’s Jetta remains true to its sporty roots.
With apologies to R. Dean Taylor, “I’m spending time in Taos, New Mexico and I don’t wanna go home.”
I’m having too much fun driving Volkswagen’s new Jetta Turbo Hybrid on some amazing mountain roads north of Santa Fe. And I just broke the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not use the words hybrid and fun in the same sentence.”
Of course, you don’t often see the words hybrid and turbo together, either, but the Jetta Hybrid isn’t afraid to kick down the door of preconceptions.
The heart of the beast is a 1.4-liter, turbocharged gas engine that weighs only 98 kilograms, but punches out 143 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. Hybrids all have electric motors hidden somewhere, and the Jetta’s version generates a further 27 horses, for a total of 170.
Many hybrids go with CVT transmissions but the Jetta breaks ground with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch tranny that weighs a feathery 74 kg, way less than a regular slushbox. Shifts were fast, crisp and as slick as Elvis’ white leather jumpsuits.
When in electric drive or after lifting off the gas pedal, a dry clutch disconnects the engine from the drivetrain, and you’re freewheeling, using less fuel.
Even with the lightweight engine and transmission package, the Hybrid tips the scales at 1,502 kg, about 100 kg more than the 2.5-liter Jetta automatic and 120 more than a Prius. Most of the extra weight comes from the battery pack, which lives under the trunk. It also impacts the fuel tank, with a capacity of 45 liters, down 10 from the standard Jetta.
Like most hybrids, the Jetta uses regenerative braking to transfer energy back into the battery. At slow speeds, you can feel it through the brake pedal — it’s not obtrusive, just a bit “different.” During normal driving, the brake pedal feels normal.
The Jetta starts off in pure electric mode and when more oomph is required, the gasoline engine is engaged seamlessly by the start/stop system. You can also push the “E-mode” button and, as long as you don’t exceed 70 km/h, it runs on pure electric power for up to 2 kilometers.
Volkswagen claims a zero-to-100-km/h time of 8.6 seconds, and a couple of impromptu runs on a deserted stretch of road confirmed that. By comparison, a Prius plods to 100 in about 10 seconds.
A modified Jetta Hybrid set a world speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats in August as the world’s fastest hybrid, at 298 km/h (185 mph), and then returned in October to break the magic 300 km/h barrier.
The Hybrid remains true to its sporty Jetta roots, as I demonstrated through the mountains north of Santa Fe. Initial turn-in is good, there’s some body roll but it sticks pretty well. And when you press the right pedal, it actually accelerates out of the turn.
Hybrids are all about fuel economy and, although I didn’t get a chance to measure it, Volkswagen claims about 4.4 L/100 km combined. During normal driving, the on-board fuel consumption readout was hovering at about 5 L/100 km. And, yes, the TDI diesel does better, but the Hybrid gives customers another option to consider.
The Hybrid is distinguished from other Jettas by a new front air dam, a sculpted rear bumper for better streamlining, lightweight alloy wheels and low-rolling-resistance tires — all in the name of improved fuel efficiency.
For infotainment purposes, there’s a couple of visuals in the nav screen that show either the regeneration of power or how much you’ve driven using zero emissions. Personally, I’m not in favour of anything that might distract the driver, even an eco-friendly one.
Instead of a tachometer, the Hybrid has a Power Meter, which indicates the most efficient driving style while alternating between gas and electric power. It goes from zero to 100, the latter being the point at which both motors are giving full pop.
The base Trendline Jetta Hybrid starts at $27,875, the better equipped Comfortline is $30,175 and the loaded Highline is $34,025.
The Hybrid makes sense for commuters who want good fuel economy but still want something sporty to drive. Most commuters face traffic conditions ranging from blasting along at 100 km/h to crawling through stop-and-go traffic — ideal conditions for a hybrid to strut its stuff.
Jetta is not the cheapest hybrid in its class, but it’s certainly in the ballpark. It’s got pretty good fuel efficiency, a comfortable interior, ample performance, lots of rear-seat legroom and is fun to drive.
It also brings some groundbreaking new technology to the hybrid party, and that can only be a good thing.
Face it, most hybrids are as dull as dishwater, but for those who truly enjoy driving, the Jetta Turbo Hybrid is like a huge splash of colour on a dreary, fuel-efficient landscape.
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid
ENGINE: 1.4 L, inline 4, turbocharged, 7-speed dual clutch tranny
POWER/TORQUE: 150 hp/184 lb.-ft.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: (claimed) 4.4 L/100 km
COMPETITION: Every other hybrid
WHAT’S BEST: Economy, fun factor, sportiness, plush interior.
WHAT’S WORST: No tachometer.
WHAT’S INTERESTING: Only hybrid with a turbocharged engine and dual clutch transmission.
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