Monday, January 21, 2013

VW Jetta Hybrid test drive

I have driven most versions of the new Jetta over the past year, and was really curious about this new Hybrid. 
It is one of these "invisible" Hybrids. It has a slightly different front end . And a few badges here and there. Most people will never know the difference between this and a regular Jetta.
A car you basically buy for yourself, and not so much to make a statement.

 Inside, few differences also. The dashboard is the same. It has the soft plastic used in the GLI.
The shifter is the same as other DSG models. Nothing futuristic here.

 The trunk is, as expected, quite a bit smaller.
 The 1st thing I noticed is how quiet and smooth the small 1.4 Liter is. Much more so than the rough 2.0 Liter turbo in the GTI/GLI.

The new 7 speed DSG is also wonderful.
Everything works like it should. Again, unlike the 2.0 Turbo/6 speed DSG combo which always surprises me by how rough it is. And the painful "Turbo/DSG" delay experienced in the GLI is not there either.
Here, the DSG is quick to downshift, and invisible when upshifting.

The switch from all electric to gas is also super smooth. You mostly can't hear of feel anything.
It can go pure electric until about 20MPH, if you don't push it. And while coasting/cruising, you can get to almost 50MPH before the gas engine turns on.

The most surprising part is how quick, and fun it is to drive. Power comes almost instantly when you push it.
And again, always in a smooth, quiet and refined manner.
The steering and suspension are both great and have that satisfying German feel.
None of these can be said a bout the numb and slow Prius.

But as we know, people don't seem to buy hybrids for driving fun, so does it deliver in the MPG department?
The Jetta Hybrid is rated at 42 in the city and 48HWY.
I did get 42 in the city, and got 50 on the highway. I averaged 46. So yes, it does deliver.
My test car was the SE model, which costs about $27 000, without GPS or Sunroof.

 I would consider the Hybrid a sport version of the Jetta.
Much more fun to drive than the GLI and about as quick.
Think of it as a GLI that gets 46 MPG. With a smoother engine and a much better transmission.
You get numbers that are very close to the Diesel model, but are using much cheaper regular gas.

The Jetta Hybrid is really a blast to drive and I was sorry to see it go.
Something quite amazing to say about a hybrid.


Scott MacEwen said...

Hey Vince,

How was the acceleration? How does it compare to say, a Kia Optima Hybrid?

Also - what's the warranty like? Knowing some of the electrical problems the Germans have had - is the warranty extended?

What would an all in cost be? IF you got the sunroof / etc. Also - is it the Fender stereo used in other cars? Does it have a subwoofer?

Scott MacEwen said...

Hey Vince - some Q's:
- How was the acceleration?
- How does it compare to the Optima Hybrid?
- Is the stereo the Fender one used in other VW's? Does it have a subwoofer?
- What would the all in price be w/ the sunroof & GPS?
- Knowing some of the electrical problems the germans have had - what's the warranty like? Is it better then the standard VW?
- Is it a leather interior or the 'pleather' used in some of the other models?

Anonymous said...

"Just as much fun to drive as the GLI and just as quick?"

No, Vince, instrumented tests show they are far apart from each other. They aren't even remotely close.

Also, I pity the fool who buys a hybrid VAG product. They have enough electrical problems in their normal models, what do you think is going to happen with a complex hybrid system?

Anonymous said...

I would rather have the TDI than the hybrid.

Vince Burlapp said...

To answer some questions;
-Acceleration was great. And fantastic in the DSG's sport mode.
-Never drive the Optima Hybrid
-Stereo wasn't Fender on my SE model. Fender does have a sub.
-Not sure about the warranty of leatherette.
But it did look and felt like leather to me...

I don't really care about "intrumented tests". Most people who actually buy cars don't either.
The huge acceleration delay in the GLI from the turbo lag and horrible DSG make the car feel slower than the Hybrid when used in the normal mode.
The hybrid doesn't have the delay or lag and does feel at least as fast when you actually drive it.

That's just my personal experience after having driven both cars for almost 2 weeks.

Anonymous said...

VW hybrid sounds like a warranty nightmare just waiting to happen. VW can't even engineer basic electrical systems correctly in their non-hybrid cars.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review!

I read you can fold rear seats. Is that the case? Looking at picture seems it's possible but little bit blocked by battery.

Don't know why someone would prefer TDI. Diesel fuel is expensive (again) and I rather have completely silent idle than tractor style idling.

Anonymous said...

Wouldnt it be better to compare it with a Camry hybrid which would be more its size instead of the Prius?

Anonymous said...

Camry Hybrid is lot bigger than Jetta which is pretty much size of a Corolla.

Prius has much bigger storage and better mpg. So for pure economical reasons Prius is better choice. But probably not as much fun to drive.

Anonymous said...

January 23, 2013 at 1:22 PM

For purely economical reasons, Hybrids are NEVER a better choice. The batteries alone (4-4-7 year life) are $3500-$6,000 plus labor to replace. Insurance is MUCH higher. They are heavier, so brakes and tires wear out faster and must be replaced more often. And they cost MUCH more to start (compared to a gas car with similar handling & performance). Compare Prius to Aveo; not to something twice as fast and twice as agile.

Keith said...


What nonsense. Here in Ontario, insurance is 10-15% cheaper for hybrids, compared to similar sized/classed vehicles.

The beatters may be $3500 to replace, but how many instances of full battery replacement have you heard of? There have been taxis scrapped whose batteries have been usable.