Detroit Auto Show: Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

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.

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image via Volkswagen

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.

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.

  • danwat1234

    Why is VW so dumb?? Don’t use a 1.4 liter OTTO cycle gas engine! I don’t think they are even using an Atkinson cycle OTTO. VW is not very good with gas engines, take the whopping 31MPG hwy new Beetle for example.

    Come on now! It’s real easy. Put a 1.2 liter turbodiesel like you have in the European Polo and mate it to a strong hybrid drivetrain.

    Bam. Now you have more MPG than any Prius and decent acceleration due to the power of the electric motor.
    55-60MPG HWY is within reach.

    I know VW can make that 1.2L Diesel pass emissions in the USA so make it happen and beat the competition! Don’t use the oversized 2L diesel engine that you use in the USA Passat, Jetta, Beetle, use the small 1.2L from Europe!

    I do like that this hybrid will decouple the drivetrain from the wheels when the gas pedal isn’t being pressed. This is in contrast to the Prius, where it has a ‘engine drag simulator’ by lightly regenerative braking whenever you aren’t on the gas pedal. Wastes energy.