The sixth-generation Jetta receives a new family member in the form of the 2013 Jetta Hybrid. [fimg=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/Profile_News.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Nov. 6, 2012 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid - $24,995 to start and a 42/48/45 mpgUS city/highway/combined estimate. The SE ($26,990) though SEL Premium ($31,180) adds more comfort, luxury and convenience features. Exterior The familiar but not terribly exciting Jetta exterior has been tweaked to reduce its coefficient of aerodynamic drag to .28 from .30 with a slight lowering, a front air dam, more closed up grille, slightly extended side skirts and a trunk lid spoiler. While not exactly eye-catching, the upscale alloy wheels on all trims and laser body to roof seam welds add a touch of class over and above its competitors. Interior Situated between the informative, but not ground-breaking, all-new Power Meter on the left and the speedometer on the right is a standard Multi-Function Instrument, which shows ambient temperature, gear selection, the trip computer, a second audio display, and driver settings. In the Jetta Hybrid, this screen also presents the car’s drive state and the “ePower meter,” which includes the level of battery charge and the available amount of electric driving (“E-Max”). An Auto dual-zone climate that incorporates an electric-based A/C system for a cool interior climate even when the engine is shut down is standard. A new soft plastic upper interior covering and cloth textured headliner and A-pillar adds to its upscale appearance. All Hybrid models also include standard Bluetooth connectivity and a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel. Comfort? Spending over 200 miles in the Jetta Hybrid split between the driver and passenger seat yesterday, the car was quiet enough to have a conversation with a passenger without raising your voice or straining to listen at speeds up to 75 mph. In addition, the large diameter cushioned soft leather wrapped wheel, ergo and seat comfort was excellent. 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid - The Driving Space Drivetrain The Jetta Hybrid combines a direct injected and turbocharged 170 HP and 184 lb-ft of torque 1.4L I4 gasoline engine with a 27 HP clutched electric motor mated to a very smooth 7-speed dry dual clutch automatic and a 1.1 kWh Li-Ion pack located under the rear trunk floor. The small electric motor acts as a starter to spin up the engine from 0 RPM, provides EV propulsion under light demand and regenerative braking whenever the brake is actually applied. Together, the drivetrain provides an eye opening and somewhat easy to achieve 45 mpg combined rating along with a 0 to 60 mph dash time of just 8.6 seconds. The Jetta Hybrid can be accelerated gently to 37 mph, and 44 mph if using the “E-Mode” button although the topography driven on yesterday was too hilly to test these limits. I did see EV propulsion at 65 + mph on mountain downhill’s so it is torque demand based vs. a hard ceiling limit imposed via software. The Jetta Hybrids killer app is its ability to glide at up to 84 mph. I did not test that top limit but at any speed just let off the gas, the engine is declutched from the transmission and shutdown evoking a glide without any work from the driver whatsoever. While there is a small amount of drivetrain drag, it is vastly reduced compared to Toyota’s HSD, Ford’s e-CVT and even Hyundai’s Bluedrive in D. Placing power to the road, all versions (15, 16 and 17 in wheel equipped) of the 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid are shod with somewhat low rolling resistance Continental ContiPro Contacts. 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid EV Mode in action Notice I am demanding power via the “ePower meter” (left gauge) with the engine shutdown (0 RPM per the ScanGuage) while traveling at far beyond its specified 37 mph EV Mode top speed. Glide speeds may in fact be unlimited. This higher speed mountainous driving stint ended at 60.1 mpg with a net elevation decrease of approximately 300 ft. When the Li-Ion pack is filled to capacity with a slight touch of the brake to evoke Regenerative braking during a lengthy descent, the engine does spin up with the injectors shut down to provide engine braking as expected. Ride and Handling Whooa is it good! The Jetta Hybrid features the Jetta GLI’s suspension components minus the stiffer springs. Why is it good? Great tuning up front and at the rear, a truly independent multi-link rear suspension. Again right out of the great handling Jetta GLI but with softer spring rates and probably less aggressive dampers that provide a very comfortable ride. Volkswagen’s latest electric power steering (EPS) system in the Jetta Hybrid provides an excellent balance of precise road feel without limiting driving comfort at speed. Maybe a touch under-boosted at parking lot speeds, at suburban and highway speeds it buries the entire compact class other than the Mazda3. And we are talking a fuel efficient hybrid, not a purpose built autocrosser. All told, taking 35-mph-suggested, decreasing-radius mountain sweepers in 50 mph PSL zones at 60 + mph inspires confidence like nothing in the high fuel economy class. Fuel Economy The 2013 Jetta Hybrid is expected to be certified with a 45 mpgUS combined rating. This is of course an excellent rating and like all CleanMPG’ers, it is simply a number to achieve as a minimum with much more available in the real world. The following was a short US highway round trip drive in the chilly (39 – 43 degrees F) morning hours with the average Fuel Consumption Display (aFCD) reset and then recorded some 21.2 round trip miles later at the exact location that it was zeroed. Unfortunately the terrain in the Santa Fe area is extremely mountainous and there was an 800 ft. descent on the first leg heading out and the same 800 ft. climb coming back. The result as shown is not a calibrated result (odometer or fuel consumption) but given VW’s focus on accuracy, I suspect the 68.0 mpg result is extremely close to the actual result in subpar conditions and tough topography. In temperatures of 70 degrees, I would expect a 73.1 mpg result after temperature compensation on that same mountainous round trip route. In other words a world-record-breaking automobile and the only thing needed is to maintain speed between the limits and allow the Jetta Hybrids EV/Glide mechanisms to work as designed. Safety [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/523/NHTSA_4-Star_News.jpg[/fimg]The Jetta Hybrid arrives with front, side and side curtain airbags. On the active front, it incorporates Anti-lock Braking (ABS), Electronic Brake-Pressure Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA) and VWs exclusive Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS), which unlocks the doors and turns on the hazard lights, as well as shutting down the fuel system in certain types of collision. On the tough NHTSA crash test regimen, the Jetta Hybrid scored 4 of 5-stars with the frontal crash test falling just short of the 5-star goal. Preview Conclusions While expensive (really $26,990 to start for the SE) and requiring premium fuel, the 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid provides excellent acceleration with a great ride and confidence inspiring handling within its competitive segment. I am speaking of the Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and C-MAX by an instantly noticeable margin. It is also very quiet at both a stop and at speed. The transitions from Engine-Off in a glide, EV propulsion or regenerative braking to Engine-On and propelling the Jetta Hybrid are almost seamless. The driveline shift shock between gears is also one of the best in the business for a traditional automatic. Around town with the ICE-Off, I can only think of the current Fusion Hybrid being quieter. The Jetta Hybrid, will go on sale later this month with specific details uploaded in the following: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid Pricing, Options and Specifications 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid Ready to take you on a "Fun-to-drive" mountain road adventure.