Volkswagen’s headlining debut in Detroit is the 2013 Jetta hybrid, which will be only the second hybrid vehicle that the Volkswagen brand has sold in America (after the Touareg hybrid). Although official EPA figures aren’t yet available, VW estimates the Jetta hybrid will return 45 mpg combined. The most efficient version of the Jetta currently on offer, the TDI diesel, is rated at 30/42 mpg (city/highway).
Before unveiling the Jetta hybrid here in Detroit, Volkswagen played a video of the car while several dancers performed to a hip-hop remix of Beethoven. After the dancing ceased, Volkswagen board member Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg drove the new Jetta onto the stage.
"This is one of the most fuel efficient and dynamic cars in its class," Hackenberg said. He noted that the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta enjoyed the car's highest sales figures ever in the U.S. last year. Last year also was the first time Volkswagen of America was profitable since 2003.
The Jetta’s hybrid powertrain uses a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-four engine, which has previously been available in Europe but makes its U.S. debut in this car. It produces 150 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. The engine’s output is supplemented by a 27-hp electric motor, with power stored in a 1.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack fitted behind the rear seat.
The Jetta hybrid can be driven up to 44 mph if the driver selects the E-Mode switch. When decelerating at speeds up to 84 mph, the gasoline engine can be decoupled from the drivetrain so that more kinetic energy can be recovered by the regenerative braking system. When you’ve had enough of saving the planet, selecting sport mode unlocks sport mode peak system power of 170 hp and allows a 0-to-60-mph run of just 9.0 seconds.
Other tweaks to transform the Jetta from gas-burner to hybrid include a new ePower meter, the replacement of the tachometer with a power flow display, a more aerodynamic body kit, and special 15-inch wheels with low rolling-resistance tires. All told, the hybrid model creates about 10 percent less drag than a regular Jetta sedan. Even with the addition of the battery pack and electric motor, the compact engine and transaxle mean the hybrid model is only about 221 pounds heavier than an equivalent non-hybrid model.
The 2013 Jetta hybrid goes on sale in November 2012. Pricing for the car will be announced at a later date.
For more on the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta hybrid, check out our First Look here. For more on the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Detroit Show homepage.