From £17,325
Interesting and appealing - but European buyers will, surely, stick with the diesel Jetta

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Jetta

The Volkswagen Jetta has a big boot, pleasant dynamics and good pricing, but is a bit dull

1 February 2012

What is it?

This is the new VW Jetta Hybrid, built at the company’s Chattanooga plant in the US. It’s a fairly simple layout under the skin: primary power comes from the familiar 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine (boosted here to 148bhp) driving a seven-speed DSG transmission. Sandwiched between the engine and gearbox is a compact 27bhp electric motor. The car weighs just 221lbs more than the standard Jetta.

The electric motor is backed up by a Lithium-Ion battery, though one of just 1.1kWh capacity. The motor has the poke to propel the VW Jetta Hybrid up to 44mph on the battery alone. At more modest speeds, this battery can only power the car for around 1.2 miles with the engine switched off.

However, by using this modest battery to get the car moving from a standstill and by deploying a clutch that isolates the engine from the drivetrain during coasting and running pure electric modes, this Jetta has been rated as averaging a diesel-like 54mpg (45mpg in US gallons) across the four different fuel economy tests used by the American authorities.

What’s it like?

Remarkably normal. Unlike the Toyota Prius, which is undermined by its droning CVT box and remarkably wooden ride and handling, the VW Jetta Hybrid feels like a typical medium-size VW saloon. Indeed, in normal driving conditions, there’s not much to distinguish between it and the Skoda Octavia 1.4 TSi, even though it lacks the Skoda’s more sophisticated rear suspension.

It is brisk, rides decently and benefits from the sweet downsized petrol engine and the now-familiar stop-start engine management. From a practical point of view, the car offers impressive rear legroom and a decent boot and is very nicely put together.

It is hard to tell that this is hybrid, aside from the fact that car rolls away from traffic lights in silence (assuming the battery is charged).

VW says that its technique for regenerative braking is different to other makers’ hybrid systems. When the driver lifts off before braking, a clutch disengages the engine from the drivetrain, so the slowing is achieved by the brakes, rather than also using the drivetrain drag and electric motor.

Aside from, according to VW, recycling more energy back into the battery, from a driver’s point of view, the way the car can be slowed feels much more natural and progressive than is often the case with a hybrid.

Should I buy one?

The Jetta Hybrid goes on sale later this year. There is one significant thing to remember about the Jetta Hybrid, which is that is based on VW’s current technology to a great degree. The platform is a mixture of today’s PQ35 Golf structure and other modules and the 1.4 TSi engine is the current unit, not the all-new (and 8-10 per cent more efficient) unit destined for the new Golf family.

In reality, the Jetta Hybrid is aimed at the US buyers for whom the term ‘hybrid’ equates to ‘virtuous’. European buyers will, surely, stick with the diesel Jetta, which will be cheaper and deliver slightly better economy. Better still, wait for a new-generation Golf family model in 2013.

But if you are one of Europe’s potential hybrid buyers, this car may not flaunt its difference in the way that the Prius does, but it does feel virtually indistinguishable from its petrol sibling and, therefore, is more appealing driving proposition than the Toyota.

VW Jetta Hybrid

Price: TBC; Top speed: 120mph (est); 0-60mph: 9.0sec; Economy: 54mpg (EU combined); Co2: TBC; Kerbweight: 1500kg; Engine: 4 cylinder, inline, 1390cc; Power: 148bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-4000rpm and 27bhp electric motor: Gearbox: seven-speed DSG

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Comments
15

7 February 2012

[quote Autocar]the slowing is achieved by the brakes, rather than also using the drivetrain drag and electric motor[/quote]

So how is it regenerative then? I thought the "regeneration" came from the electric motor, rather than the brakes, being used to absorb the car's kinetic energy.

Apart from that, if it can achieve Diesel-like economy and performance at Diesel-like price (the VW 2.0 TDI 170 costs around €3000 more than the 1.4 TSI 140) without the hassle of DPF, then by all means, bring it on!

7 February 2012

Well done VW, a smaller more affordable Hybrid that actually drives quite well. Adding the hybrid set up to the more euro body style of the golf, the superior suspension VW use in europe and the recently introduced cylinder on demand engine would make this a very atractive proposition over here.

Is there a reason why the box has to be an Auto? I can see that a DSG is more efficient than a conventional auto and nicer in use than a CVT, but can the set up be used in a Manual too?

7 February 2012

[quote giulivo]without the hassle of DPF[/quote]

This has got to be the key selling point for cars like this in Europe.

I know why it is a saloon but I can't help thinking it would be a lot bigger seller clothed with the hatch body.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

7 February 2012

Artill, I don't think anyone makes a manual hybrid, can you think of one? Maybe the tech just doesn't work very well if the human is too big a part of the equation.

7 February 2012

[quote Mario B]I don't think anyone makes a manual hybrid, can you think of one? Maybe the tech just doesn't work very well if the human is too big a part of the equation[/quote]

Mario, the only one i am aware of now is the Honda CR-Z. A fun little car, just in need of more performance. Previously the first Hybrid Civic was available as CVT or Manual. The first Hybrid Honda brought us, the Insight was manual only here, although they did offer a CVT in the US and Japan. I owned one of these and the hybrid tech works extremely well with a human.

7 February 2012

This is the wrong engine to use with the hybrid drivetrain in my opinion. Either a diesel or higher output petrol would have made more sense.

7 February 2012

It's good that the hybrid Jetta achieves about 20% better fuel consumption than its closest petrol engined relative. But I'd be surprised if the EU mpg figure isn't just a little better than what's stated. That's because 54mpg equates to around 123 g/km of CO2, and no manufacturer in its right mind is going to bring a car to market in this country with that figure. That's probably why the CO2 is missing from the data - and it's a fair bet that the car will be launched with a much more acceptable 119 g/km...

7 February 2012

Artill, trust Honda to trust us.I bet Toyota wouldn't. Do you fancy a CR-X? I am not keen on the shape to be honest.

7 February 2012

[quote Mario B]Artill, trust Honda to trust us.I bet Toyota wouldn't. Do you fancy a CR-X?[/quote]

I do fancy one, but only if they give us one with more grunt. Its not awful now, but not good enough either. But its something that should be coming soon. There again i am in no rush

7 February 2012

[quote artill]

[quote Mario B]Artill, trust Honda to trust us.I bet Toyota wouldn't. Do you fancy a CR-X?[/quote]

I do fancy one, but only if they give us one with more grunt. Its not awful now, but not good enough either. But its something that should be coming soon. There again i am in no rush

[/quote] Do you run ALL of the cars in your strap line?

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