By Arv Voss, Motor Matters

For the first time in the U.S. market Volkswagen brings us the Jetta Hybrid sedan. Not at all hybrid-looking, this Jetta model -- with manufacturer mileage claims of 45 mpg -- has the same aerodynamic, ageless styling as the rest of the Jetta lineup.

There are obvious subtle differences however, such as the blue highlighted VW logo, hybrid badging, uniquely designed wheels, and front grille. Distinguishing features that hint at the Jetta Hybrid?s streamlined efficiency include: a hybrid-specific air intake that provides a flush seal, controlling the cooling air flow through the engine compartment; a custom trunk lid spoiler, front air dam and extended rockers or side skirts.

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The 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid comes in four trims: the base model Hybrid ($24,995); SE ($26,990); SEL ($29,325); and SEL Premium ($31,180). My test Jetta Hybrid was in SEL Premium trim.

This compact sedan is truly a no-compromise hybrid that features the only turbocharged engine and dual-clutch transmission in its class, while also claiming the best acceleration and sportiest handling in its class. It also provides the most rear-seat legroom and largest trunk (11.3 cubic feet) in the compact hybrid sedan class.

Motive for the Jetta Hybrid is provided by a 1.4-liter, 150-horsepower, four-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled engine with Direct Injection, which also delivers 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The gas engine is coupled with an electric motor powered by Lithium-Ion battery that supplies 27 horsepower (20Kw) and 114 lb.-ft. of torque. The combined motors deliver a total of 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque.

Metering power to the front-wheel-drive compact sedan is a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. It may be operated in a purely automatic mode or shifted manually. A Sport setting is also provided.

The Jetta Hybrid starts in electric mode, operating in EV mode for up to 37 mph. Selecting the "E-Mode" button to the right of the gearshift lever activates the zero-emissions, electric mode, maintaining a speed of up to 44 mph, while allowing for more aggressive throttle input. This mode requires sufficient battery charge and temperature range. If the battery is depleted, then the gas engine kicks in and the EV system will reactivate once enough power has been regenerated.

The new Jetta Hybrid delivers impressive acceleration with its four-cylinder turbo boosted engine and off-the-line clout with its electric motor combination.

The seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic operates superbly in either the automatic mode or when shifting manually. Passing on an uphill grade in high altitude posed absolutely no problem.

The ride quality provided by the Jetta Hybrid is comfortable and compliant, while delivering a firm and stable handling response, thanks to the same suspension componentry as the Jetta GDI. Actual handling characteristics are both nimble and sporty, with good on-center steering feel through its electric power steering.

The Jetta Hybrid's interior features a unique set of displays that highlight the advanced powertrain's operation. A "Power Meter" replaces the traditional tachometer. The Power Meter reflects levels of charge and operational efficiency. This screen displays the car's drive state and indicates the battery's charge level and the available amount of electric driving, called E-Max. And of course, there's the standard instrumentation that displays ambient temperature, gear selection, trip computer, a second audio display and driver settings.

The addition of the 2013 Hybrid now gives consumers a comprehensive model selection among VW's popular Jetta family. This 45-mpg hybrid is an ideal choice for fuel-economy-conscious drivers who demand fun driving enjoyment.



VEHICLE TYPE__________________ 5-passenger FWD compact sedan

BASE PRICE_____________________$31,180 (as tested: $31,975)

MOTOR TYPE___________________ Turbo 4-cyl. w/DI and electric motor


HORSEPOWER (net)______________170 at 5000 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_________________ 184 at 1000 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 7-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 182.8 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___36.4 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,312 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY_________________ 11.9 gal.

MILEAGE RATING________________Est. 45 mpg combined

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