More Fun Than A Prius, Less Sensible Than A TDI Let's have some fun, and do some math. We're talking pretty rudimentary stuff, multiplication and division, to figure out if the upcoming Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid can make a baseline case for itself against two very strong competitors in this segment. The competitors in question, at least for now, are two more Jettas: the diesel-drinking TDI and the fit-for-the-masses SE with VW's long-serving 2.5-liter engine. To keep the equations clean and simple (hey, we're writers), we'll calculate based on the most flattering EPA miles per gallon stat from highway driving for all cars, assume a healthy 20,000 miles driven per year, and factor in today's average cost for the respective fuels these three require: diesel (TDI), regular (SE) and premium (Hybrid). We'll also start with the base prices for all models. With all of that info loaded into our mental hoppers, how much time does it take to make the 45-mpg fuel economy of the Jetta Hybrid offset its premium price? To refresh, the $24,995 Hybrid is $2,005 more than the TDI and a heady $6,000 more than the SE. With highway economy ratings of 43 mpg for the TDI and 48 for the Hybrid, even considering that diesel fuel is more expensive, it'd take you about seven years of Hybrid driving before you've paid off the technology premium. The regular-gas sipping SE is a still more compelling argument for the frugal, as you'll need to drive your hybrid for roughly 13 years to make up the sticker difference at today's fuel prices. Bring the miles driven down to a closer-to-average 12k per year, and the payback takes even longer. We want both better mpg-performance and at least as much driving fun as the TDI, or, really, what's the point? So what? Run a similar thought experiment with any other sets of gasoline- and hybrid-powered models in the universe today and you're likely to come up with very similar results – hybrid technology is still too expensive to "pay for itself" in almost every instance. The difference here, especially striking to those enthusiasts (like us) that have driven and enjoyed TDI products in the past, is that VW has long seemed to be the anti-hybrid, high-mpg beacon of driving fun in a world that becomes more Prius-shaped each time we look up from the Porsche catalog long enough to wince at it. So going into this full-bore test drive of the Jetta Hybrid, we want both better mpg-performance and at least as much driving fun as the TDI, or, really, what's the point? At the heart of the Volkswagen hybrid proposition is a powertrain comprised of a 1.4-liter turbocharged gas engine and a 20kW electric motor that draws power from a 220-volt, 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack. Total output for the system is 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, with the electric motor good for a consistent 114 lb-ft of torque on its own, though the actual put-through number is electronically …
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|MPG||42 City / 48 Hwy|
|Transmission||7-spd auto-shift man w/OD|
|Power||150 @ 5000 rpm|
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