This article reviews the new VW Jetta hybrid and gives tips and features you won't find on the manufacturer's website or hear through the salesperson. There's also pricing, standard equipment and options, and FAQ. This article is regularly updated as more information comes out so please check back for updates!. Also register in free forum to join our community of VW hybrid forum enthusiasts! Make sure to read page 2 which explains features of the car in more depth than the brochure and a comparison vs. the Prius.
The 2011 VW Touareg hybrid and Porsche Cayenne hybrid were the first hybrids by VW-Audi-Porsche but the 2013 VW Jetta hybrid is VW auto group's first volume model. Only the Jetta sedan is offered with the hybrid option; it's not available in the Sportwagen (which is technically a Golf wagon). The equipment level on the hybrid is currently the highest available on the Jetta, even above the GLI. Some differences on the hybrid vs. the regular gas and TDI Jetta are the addition of soft touch plastic surfaces, full screen MFD vs. half screen MFD, and of course, the hybrid drivetrain. See below for a detailed explanation of these differences.
Why is Volkswagen making hybrids now? To remain viable, every major car manufacturer must spend lots of money on their own hybrid and electric car technology, cooperate with a larger partner, or license it from someone else. Since VW is comparable in size to Toyota, it makes sense for them to develop their own systems. North American markets (NA) seem to prefer hybrid technology and as the second largest market, NA will drive what VW and other major players spend their money on. Honda, Ford, and Hyundai are all selling a noticeable number of hybrids and Nissan is now developing their own hybrid systems vs. licensing them from Toyota.
Estimated fuel economy of the VW Jetta hybrid is 45 mpg combined for the North American spec car. The hybrid launch will be in the US and Canada first because the North American market likes hybrids vs. Europe where the market favors diesels.
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1.4L TSI engine and 20kW motor: the gasoline engine is a 1.4L turbocharged unit. Although it's new to NA, this is a very common engine in the Rest of World (ROW) market. (The base ROW engine is the 1.2L engine). It's not offered as the base engine in NA because it's more expensive to build than the base 2.0L engine. The gas engine's peak power is 150 hp (110kW) and peak torque is 184 lb-ft (250Nm) from 1,400-3,500 rpm. The electric motor is rated at 20 kW. If the car is in boost mode both the engine and motor can provide a peak of 170 hp.
Battery pack: Each of the 60 lithium ion cells is a 5 Ah unit with a total pack voltage of 220 V and 1.1 kWh. The battery weight is 79 lbs (35.8kg) and is located behind the rear seats in the trunk. While Li-ion batteries have a higher energy density than Ni-MH, they're also more expensive and create more heat. To discharge the heat, there's a fan that draws cabin air over the battery exhausts it out of the car. Because batteries have an optimal temperature range, you may see less range when at very cold or warm temperatures. As a side note, using air conditioning and heated seats when it's very cold or warm also affects battery performance because these are run off the battery.
Transmission: The transmission is a 7 speed dual shift gearbox (DSG). DSG is like two manual transmissions that automatically shift. Unlike conventional automatic transmissions or CVT, there are no planetary gears or torque converters so engine braking (on a non-hybrid) and shifting feels more like a manual transmission than an automatic transmission. On the hybrid, it will instead enter coasting drive mode. Even though the battery and power module adds weight, the lighter transmission and engine means the total weight of the hybrid is only about 220 lbs (100kg) more than a regular Jetta. See more details on this transmission on page 2.
Hybrid module and power electronics module: The engine and transmission sandwich the hybrid module. The module couples the engine to the transmission with the electric motor and a clutch. The clutch can fully connect or disconnect the engine from the transmission depending on the driving mode. This is known as a parallel hybrid system. The module looks similar to the VW Touareg hybrid unit shown below.
The power electronics module contains most of the hybrid parts outside of the battery and the hybrid module. One of its major functions is to convert high voltage direct current (DC) which comes from the battery into alternating current (AC) which is used by the motor and convert the 220V coming out of the battery into 12V AC used by the rest of the car's electronic systems.
Drive modes: There are 4 basic drive modes and 2 other modes: electric drive, gas drive, a combination of electric and gas, and boost drive move the car forward. The other modes are coasting and regeneration mode when braking. Instead of an engine tachometer the car has a power meter. There is also car information shown on the multifunction display (MFD). Note: most of these pictures are pre-production so some labels may change slightly. The radio shown is the optional RNS-315 navigation system.
When the car is not powered on the power meter will show "OFF". When the car is powered on and at rest and it will be at "0".
When the battery has enough charge the Jetta can go up to 1.3 miles or 37 mph in pure electric drive (depending on conditions). If the E-mode button is pressed it can go up to 44 mph. This is mostly seen during slow city driving. The engine is shut down at stoplights and initial motion is all electric drive until more power or higher speeds are requested. The clutch is disengaged (released) in electric drive. Because of the stop-start engine function, the heating, air conditioning, and other auxiliary equipment are at least partially electric. The power meter and MFD will show "E-Mode or E-Motor".
Gas drive is when only the gas engine is moving the car through the engaged clutch. This state is used when greater power is requested through the accelerator pedal or the battery is too low. If it's efficient to do so, the engine will act like a generator to charge the battery. The power meter may be in the "Eco" range. The MFD will show the below left graphic.
If it's most efficient to do so, the car will use both the gas engine and electric motor to move the car forward. The power meter will show "Eco".
Boost drive is enabled only when the DSG transmission is in S mode and the driver requests fast acceleration (like passing). The clutch is engaged and both the engine and electric motor can provide their combined peak power of up to 170 hp. The power meter will go all the way to the right and show "Boost". The MFD will also show the boost graphic.
Coasting is used whenever the driver takes their foot off the accelerator pedal up to 84 mph (135 km/h). The clutch is disengaged and the engine is shut off so that there's no engine braking. This lets the car coast in neutral.
Battery regeneration charges the battery when the brake pedal is pressed. This uses the motor in the hybrid module to provide some resistance to slow the car. This also charges the battery. The power meter and MFD will show "Charge".
Other than the obvious hybrid drivetrain, the biggest difference vs. the gas and TDI is the trim level. The gas engine choices are available in the base model up to the highline GLI sport model. The super stripper base model doesn't even come with power windows, door locks, or radio! There are also some cost cutting measures like hydraulic power steering (a downgrade vs. the last generation Jetta).
The TDI is only available in a midline trim even when fully equipped with the premium with Nav package. This is because it lacks the full screen multifunction display (MFD), full multifunction steering wheel (MFSW), soft dashboard (it uses harder plastic), and a midline electrical system. Although something like the electrical system isn't visible by the customer, if you start to modify the car with highline parts you'll fun into difficulties because the electrical system doesn't support them without further modification. The electrical system layout is from the European Polo. It does add electric assist power steering which saves some energy vs. hydraulic power steering, reduces engine complexity, and eliminates the need for power steering fluid service.
The highline gas model GLI uses a highline trim. This adds features like the full MFD, MFSW, soft dashboard, and multilink rear suspension. The electrical system is from the European Jetta so it can natively support highline modifications.
The hybrid trim is similar to the GLI but can be equipped even higher. The biggest option is the availability of HID headlights. These are self leveling via sensors on the suspension and also turn into corners at mid speeds when the steering wheel is turned. Other differences include the instrument cluster. Instead of having an engine tachometer, it uses a power meter that shows the various driving modes. LED taillights are standard and exclusive to the hybrid. The 15" alloy wheels are also unique to the hybrid. The base hybrid also adds an aerodynamic package which lowers drag by 10%. This includes a blocked radiator grille, front and rear spoiler, and rear diffuser. The exclusive hybrid badging also reduces drag by 10% (this is a joke).
While the official specs haven't confirmed this, the early press photos show a rain and light sensor for auto headlights and rain sensing wipers. An auto dimming rear view mirror is also shown. The rear bumper also shows an ultrasonic park assist sensor. It's not yet know if these are Euro only features.
VW Jetta hybrid SE (base): 6 airbags, optional rear side airbags, stability and traction control, and 6 speaker sound system, and manual climate control. You can add an upgraded interior package which adds different seat upholstery and auto dual zone climate control. It looks something like this. Because this is a preproduction photo, the foglights could be an error.
*Until more information is released I'm not sure which radio the base SE without the interior package gets. The upgraded interior package definitely has the RCD 510 color touchscreen radio, iPod interface, and leather MFSW. The RCD 510 also has an SD card slot and phonebook function with bluetooth.
VW Jetta hybrid SEL1: adds 16" alloy wheels, sunroof, RNS-315 GPS system, electric driver's seat, front heated seats, and KESSY. KESSY is keyless entry and start system. This unlocks the doors if you pull the handle and if the key fob is in range. This also adds an engine start button which lets you enter and start the car without touching the key fob.
VW hybrid SEL2: adds 17" alloy wheels, HID headlights, foglights, backup camera, and the Fender 400w sound system with subwoofer. The early photos also show one extra U shaped chrome trim on the lower front grille. The headlights make it look like this:
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