2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid: A Greener Shade Of BeigeS

Here in Detroit, Volkswagen is setting up to reveal its long-awaited entry in the gasoline-electric space. That's the Jetta Hybrid. Indeed, later this year, the company will introduce a hybrid version of its Jetta sedan.

The hybrid Jetta, thoughtfully referred to as the Jetta Hybrid, will be powered by a turbocharged, 1.4-liter gasoline engine producing 150 hp (and 184 lb-ft). That internal-combustion unit's boosted by a 36-hp electric motor. The combined output will total in the range of 170 hp.

It's no demon of speed, this Jetta of hybirdian tendencies; the 0-to-60 mph run will take a factory-reported nine seconds, though making it the quickest compact hybrid in a class of gas-sipping slowpokes. Still, the point isn't sound-barrier smashing; Volkswagen says the car's combined fuel economy rating is 45 mpg — or about 20 percent more thrifty in consumption than a similarly-powered Jetta sedan with a conventional drivetrain — or 30 percent better in city traffic.

That, by way of a new seven-speed DSG transmission. VW says the tranny can decouple from the engine (like in the Touareg Hybrid SUV) for all-electric operation for 1.2 miles at up to 44 mph, if the driver engages E-mode. Otherwise, the Jetta Hybrid can operate at up to 37 mph in all-electric.

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The 220-volt, 1.1 kWh battery, which weighs less than 80 lb, is mounted behind the rear bench seat. The battery's composed of 60 individual cells, with a combined energy capacity of 5 Ah. A fan mounted directly on the device provides cooling and the battery's management system monitors the temperature, and performs safety, diagnostic, and monitoring functions. When it's not in use, or if the car is involved in a collision, the battery disconnects.

Much in the same way other hybrid vehicles do, the Jetta Hybrid uses regenerative braking. Kinetic energy is fed back into the battery and stored as electrical energy for use in the electric drive mode or boosting the powertrain's performance. Despite the added weight from the electric-drive gear, VW says the Jetta Hybrid weighs 221 lbs more than a standard Jetta's 3,310 beefy pounds.