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Review: 2010 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Here are four sneak peeks in one: the Volkswagen Touareg in these pictures hides a new hybrid system that will be offered not only in a brand-new Touareg to be launched at the Frankfurt auto show in September, but also in the new Porsche Panamera and Cayenne and - mated to a smaller gasoline engine - in the Audi Q5.

VW's first hybrid might be late, but it's good. On the internal-combustion side is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 from the new Audi S4 that makes 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. With the help of an AC motor powered by nickel-metal-hydride batteries, total system power is impressive, at about 370 hp and 405 lb-ft. The electric motor can propel the car unassisted for more than a mile and at speeds of up to 30 mph. Both motors apply force to the same driveshaft; a disengagement clutch allows the gasoline engine to be shut off at speeds of up to 90 mph, cutting highway fuel consumption. An eight-speed automatic transmission provides the broad range of ratios needed to achieve the Touareg's 26-mpg efficiency target and maintain a 7700-pound towing capacity.

IT'S A MEAN GREEN MACHINE: Despite weighing about 5300 pounds, this Touareg prototype bolts off the line, hitting 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds; expect the lighter Panamera to improve substantially on that performance. Our only criticism is a lack of progressive feel from the regenerative brakes, but we suspect Porsche in particular will have fixed that by the time this system makes its way into production.

2011 Volkswagen NMS

VW is replacing the Passat with a new mid-size sedan, presently known only as the, um, New Mid-size Sedan. A sketch released by the automaker suggests that the final product, due in 2011, will be more chiseled than current VWs, but the NMS is sized specifically for the U.S. market. Engine offerings will include both direct-injection gasoline and turbo-diesel models, mated to either a six-speed dual-clutch automatic or a six-speed manual. The NMS will be produced in Tennessee at VW's new factory, which is currently under construction.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Arriving in late 2010 as a 2011 model, the sixth-generation Jetta is, for the first time, not a direct descendant of the Golf. The new, better-looking sedan will have a killer base price, made possible by reverting to a torsion-beam rear axle on the lowest trim levels.

2012 Volkswagen Polo The Volk from Wolfsburg want to bring us the tiny Polo in the form of a four-door sedan or as a slightly larger and taller version of the European Polo hatchback. Expect a 105-hp, 1.2-liter turbocharged I-4 and a base price of $13,000 to give the Honda Fit something to worry about.