We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t mean we fully understand the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta hybrid, which was unveiled at the 2012 Detroit auto show. See, there’s that other fuel-efficient Jetta—the one that runs on diesel, supposedly the brand’s preferred alternative to hybrid power. You might think Volkswagen is trying to compete with itself, but this is all likely part of the company’s master plan for world domination—and there’s no underestimating the power of a hybrid badge.
Like other VW Group hybrids, including the gas-electric Touareg, the Jetta’s system uses a clutch to decouple the gas engine from the drivetrain, which allows the engine to shut off and the car to “coast” on electricity at speeds up to 84 mph. Additionally, the driver can select an electric-only E-mode via a button next to the shift lever; this forced gas-free propulsion is limited to 1.2 miles and a maximum of 44 mph.
But VW isn’t prepared to stop at simply creating a very miserly Jetta. No, it aspires to produce the quickest hybrid in its class. Select the transmission’s sport mode or just mash the accelerator past the kickdown point, and the Jetta will apply everything it’s got, good for 60 mph from a stop in less than nine seconds, says VW. With a claimed curb weight of “less than 3310 pounds” this seems feasible, as we’ve clocked a 220-pound-lighter, 170-hp Jetta 2.5 with the conventional six-speed automatic at 8.4 seconds to 60 mph.
When the Jetta hybrid goes on sale toward the end of this year, it will be offered in three trim levels, all of which will carry as standard features like Bluetooth, LED taillights, and satellite radio. A sampling of optional equipment includes xenon headlights, LED running lights, a power driver’s seat, navigation, a rear camera, and VW’s Fender audio system. Pricing has not yet been released, but VW says the Jetta hybrid will have a sticker competitive with those of other compact hybrids; figure somewhere between $25K and $30K.