While most of the attention paid to Volkswagen at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit will be directed toward its new, irresistible electrified E-Bugster concept, the German automaker is also set to introduce a seriously sporty new Jetta Hybrid set to go head-to-head with the Honda Civic Hybrid and the segment leading Toyota Prius.
The Jetta is VW’s second hybrid, following the Touareg Hybrid SUV, released in 2011. And while this new hybrid has a been smartened up a bit on the outside with the addition of new rear spoiler, low-rolling-resistance 15-inch alloy wheels and a LED running lights, it’s not the window dressing VW is touting, it’s the guts. The hybrid Jetta features a turbocharged (yes, turbocharged in a hybrid!) 1.4-liter, four-cylinder gas engine that generates 150 horsepower.
The blown four-banger is matched to a 27-horsepower electric motor all powered by an 80-pound, 220-volt, 1.1 kWh battery stowed behind the rear bench seat. The battery features its own management system that performs safety, diagnostic, and monitoring functions as well as temperature management. Regenerative braking is also employed to increase battery efficiency and excess power from the engine can be used to charge the battery via the electric motor, which acts as a generator in this case.
VW calls these “active charging phases” which are interspersed with electric driving phases to realize the optimal fuel economy. A seven-speed automatic is also able to decouple the gasoline engine from the drivetrain when in pure electric drive or “coasting” modes.