2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid front 3/4 view

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid rear 3/4 view

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid driving

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid driving

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid driving

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid driving

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid driving

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid front detail

  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid gauges

Mild-Mannered Fun At 45 mpg



The world doesn't need another automaker claiming to have cracked the code for a fun-to-drive hybrid. The concept hasn't worked particularly well in any application. Just ask Lexus. And Honda. Twice.

Granted, we don't know how Volkswagen plans to pitch the 2013 Jetta Hybrid when it goes on sale this fall. We didn't get a two-hour long marketing presentation and associated PowerPoint. Instead, we snagged the keys while an executive-level engineer droned on about next-gen modular EGR systems and EU4-compliant oxidation catalytic converters.

We needed an escape and the Jetta Hybrid was it.

So maybe it was the sub-zero temps outside the VW pavilion in Wolfsburg, Germany or the chance to do something – anything – to combat the effects of three hours of sleep in 36 hours. But what we found during our all-too-brief drive of the Jetta Hybrid wasn't a cynical engineering-meets-marketing stop-gap, but instead the first compelling alternative to the Toyota Prius.
The Jetta Hybrid made its debut at last month's Detroit Auto Show and – considering everything else clogging the halls at Cobo – it didn't get much interest. That's because it's not that interesting.

The exterior is barely distinguishable from a standard Jetta, although the new front air dam, rear diffuser and spoiler are supposedly good for a 10-percent decrease in the sedan's coefficient of drag. Further boosting efficiency is a set of 15-inch wheels with low-rolling resistance rubber and a grille-mounted VW logo with a blue background – sure to be good for a few fractions of an MPG.



The underlying tech is just as mild-mannered, with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine putting out 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque between 1,400 and 3,500 rpm. Sandwiched between that small-displacement mill and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is an electric motor outputting an additional 27 hp (20kW). Unlike VW's first hybrid (the Touareg) that relied on a nickel metal hydride battery pack, the Jetta uses more modern and efficient lithium-ion cells – 60 in total, mounted behind the rear seat backs and weighing less than 80 pounds.

If that doesn't sound like much, that's because it isn't. The batteries only provide 1.1 kWh of juice. Thankfully, that means tonnage has been kept in check, with the whole package adding 221 pounds to the Jetta's curb weight for a total of around 3,300 pounds.

All this adds up to a claimed 45 MPG combined – five MPGs fewer than the Prius, but it's a fair trade.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid gauges

Out on the drive loop that combined a short burst of autobahn with some residential and industrial driving, the combination of the turbo'd 1.4 and electric motor proved more than adequate to scoot around town and up to freeway speeds. Nail the throttle past the kick-down point and the "power" gauge taking the place of the tachometer swings from zero, passes 10 and moves into the "Boost" section. Thrust is far from overwhelming, but it feels quicker than the claimed nine-second 0-60 mph run. We'd guess something in the low eights or high sevens.

But naturally, the Jetta is more about fuel efficiency and all-electric motoring than outright power. And compared to the Prius, it's even easier to keep things humming without the aid of internal combustion.

While the Prius requires micro-millimeter precise control of the throttle to keep it from clicking over the engine, the Jetta Hybrid prototype would only demand the four-pot's assistance when we flexed our right foot just slightly more than maintenance throttle. Moreover, VW claims you can run the Hybrid up to 44 mph in EV mode and for up to 1.2 miles before the battery is tapped of juice.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid driving

Even more impressive is VW's ability to get a much more progressive and compliant braking experience from its regenerative system. Unlike the Prius, which has always been plagued by overly-grabby brakes, the Jetta Hybrid manages to allow more modulation. The only ding is an odd regen sensation when lifting off the brakes – it feels like a strong headwind slowing things down.

Couple the better brakes and highly controllable throttle with the seven-speed DSG – an obvious improvement over CVTs fitted to most hybrids – and VW has a gotten remarkably close to creating a valid contender to the Prius, while not leaving the driving experience out of the equation.

With only a short drive under our belt, that's not a definitive call by any means, but it's an impressive proof of concept that, with the proper pricing (figure around $25k), delivers everything we want in a hybrid, plus something that's been missing: driver engagement.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 78 Comments
      MJC
      • 3 Years Ago
      I didn't expect to like this, but... 45MPG out of a car that doesn't look like a bubble and can get to 60 in less than 8 seconds is pretty cool. For $25K I'd rather have a GLI, but if MPG is your number one priority, and you do a lot of city driving, this is a great alternative to the TDI.
        A P
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MJC
        Did you read the article? 0-60 is around 9 seconds....not anywhere close to "under 8". It is a great alternative to the TDI because it is not as polluting and is a lot more efficient.
          Lachmund
          • 3 Years Ago
          @A P
          more efficient it is not
          MJC
          • 3 Years Ago
          @A P
          9 seconds versus 10.5 is a huge difference (15%). I don't need 400HP, but 10+ seconds to 60 is unacceptable, not to mention the 30-50 or 50-70 mph acceleration is even more anemic on the Prius.
        desinerd1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MJC
        yeah, that Beetle looks like a bubble.
      dreadcthulhu01
      • 3 Years Ago
      Unless VW prices this car stupidly high, this hybrid renders the Jetta TDI rather pointless in America, given that diesel fuel is a good 15% more expensive than gasoline here. I guess they want to save their diesel engines for countries that tax diesel a lot less than gasoline to make it cheaper.
        A P
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dreadcthulhu01
        That is for sure....the TDI is dirty and is no more economical than the best gas engines in its competition all things considered. VW reliability is a big question however. They just dont have any data or reputation to point too. Most of VW data is very poor.
        Ernie Mccracken
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dreadcthulhu01
        When gas prices were at like $4.25, diesel was under $4 a gallon. If that happens again(which is very possible), this vehicle won't make any sense.
          dreadcthulhu01
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ernie Mccracken
          According to the US Energy Information Administration, when average US gas prices peaked at $4.25 a gallon for regular gasoline in July of 2008, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel was selling at $4.73 a gallon. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_nus_w.htm Perhaps your area's local prices were different due to some local tax or distribution quirk.
          A P
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ernie Mccracken
          HUH? Where was diesel every cheaper than gas in the past 20 years?
          montoym
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ernie Mccracken
          @ A P: Prior to the switch to ULSD in 2008, diesel has typically always been cheaper than gasoline. You don't have to go 20yrs back to see that.
          atc98092
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ernie Mccracken
          Diesel was (at least around Seattle) always cheaper than even regular gas until around 2006-7. Part to blame was removing the sulphur, but overall I blame the oil companies for figuring out they could stick it to a group of drivers that wouldn't make as much noise as the majority. Even with the trucking industry getting hosed by these prices the oil companies have kept diesel higher ever since.
      Ernie Mccracken
      • 3 Years Ago
      We need the 1.4 turbo in America. They should leave out the electric stuff, and use this engine instead of the 2.5L 5-cylinder.
        Autoblogist
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ernie Mccracken
        The 1.8t will replace the 2.5. It should be good for 175hp from what I can remember.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ernie Mccracken
        [blocked]
      NK
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why no picture of the trunk and the battery's effect on it?
        darrelld3
        • 3 Years Ago
        @NK
        Trunk photo is here; http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/assets/IMG_1161.JPG I haven't seen this in person yet but one of the problems I had with both the Fusion and Hyundai hybrids was the lack of trunk space. My Passat TDI gets much better real world fuel economy and has plenty of trunk space. The best I could coax out of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was about 28mpg. Ford would hit about 38mpg on the same driving cycle. Will be interesting to see what the real world numbers of the Jetta are. Where I live the Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, and VW dealers are within a 3 mile radius so you can drive each under the same conditions for comparison.
          atc98092
          • 3 Years Ago
          @darrelld3
          This looks like the first car that put the battery behind the seats but didn't block the fold down function. That's the biggest reason I didn't want a Fusion or MKZ hybrid. Gotta have my fold down seats.
      4540flossy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Trouble is, it's a VW so it's boring to look at and sit in, not as well made as you'd hope, it won't be very reliable and the dealers will be terrible...
        • 3 Years Ago
        @4540flossy
        [blocked]
          Justin Campanale
          • 3 Years Ago
          No, invisibleblog/Twitter, he didn't mean that. He meant that if you are a dumbass and don't follow basic mainainance schedules (which quite a few Americans don't), you'll have problems with your German car.
          tylermars.design
          • 3 Years Ago
          god that is retarded.
        Justin Campanale
        • 3 Years Ago
        @4540flossy
        Boring? For those that are younger than 16. Not well made? VWs, with the exception of the current US spec Jetta, have some of the best interior materials in their respective classes. Not very reliable? If you don't follow basic maintainance schedules, yes. People who have a bigger brain than Paris Hilton will have trouble free experiences with their VW. Dealers are terrible? Compared to what? Not to mention that VWs have that unique European feel and have really fun drives.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          [blocked]
          A P
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          What planet do you hail from? German car have always been expensive to maintain and expensive to fix when they need work. When they run, they run great....but when they dont, they cost an arm and a leg to repair. That is why Asian cars have the great reps they do and now American cars are close to that with European cars bringing up the rear in reliability.......if you think that just buy following basic maint schedules insures you have a trouble free experience with your VW, you need to go back to Vulcan or wherever you come from, because you obviously have never owned a car on Earth. It is amazing what Euro-fans will come up with to excuse poor reliability.
      Lou
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is what I've been looking for. Untested hybrid technology from a company with a terrible reliability track record. Oh, and what's that, it relies on its batteries more than the Prius does? This should be terrific, I'll go get the popcorn so that we can pop it over the inevitable battery fire. I want to buy a Jetta again. I loved the way my old 1.8T drove. Unfortunately, it had one glaring issue. It was so rarely drive-able.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lou
        [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          [blocked]
          WillieD
          • 3 Years Ago
          "The engineers tested it and it met VW standards" There's your problem.
          zanarditypes
          • 3 Years Ago
          I'm sure it was tested and properly met their standards of planned obsolescence.
        regionrat
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Lou
        My friend's 1.8T has gotten to 100k, but it hasn't been a pretty road, that's for sure. I don't get how this can rely on the battery more than a Prius. I mean, the article points out how small the battery is, and then says the EV range is basically 1 mile at 44mph. This makes it sound like it will be constantly taxed and thus need replacing far sooner than its competition. Right?
          Lou
          • 3 Years Ago
          @regionrat
          That is how I read it. "While the Prius requires micro-millimeter precise control of the throttle to keep it from clicking over the engine, the Jetta Hybrid prototype would only demand the four-pot's assistance when we flexed our right foot just slightly more than maintenance throttle" Sounds like the battery will fully discharge a lot more than the Prius, and to me that says shortened battery life. sarcasm And I'm sure your local VW dealership is well versed in the replacement of Li-Ion battery packs. /sarcasm
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        darrelld3
        • 3 Years Ago
        Definitely a troll and probably is employed in some capacity by Toyota motors.
      desinerd1
      • 3 Years Ago
      No thanks, I would rather get a Camry or even a Prius. At least they will last more than 100000 miles.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Lachmund
        • 3 Years Ago
        just because you managed to be on your 10th account yet doesn't mean we all have that goal. btw i'm a car lover of all brands and not a troll like you.
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
      Jerry Teets
      • 3 Years Ago
      OK, this seems to be an improvement over the Prius. At least it't a real car. I still don't get it. The Jetta TDi will get at least this mileage, you can refill the tank in 5 minutes, and at the end of 100,000 miles, it's just broken in, not ready for a $10k new battery pack. I guess it makes sense if you want to look green to the neighbors and turn your car in at 2 years and 20k miles. Then the other stuff is someone else's problem.
        Tweaker
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jerry Teets
        Dude, you need to check your facts before you make a fool of yourself. You could start by googling the cost of a 1.1 kwh battery.
        fastalan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jerry Teets
        Most likely it IS a real improvement. VW is looking to has everything covered these days. They just need better dealers network in the US, a few more Euro and commercial models.
      seanleeforever
      • 3 Years Ago
      how come this report read like it come from a VW fan boy?
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