For the past few decades the diesel-powered Jetta TDI has been the fuel economy star in the Volkswagen lineup. However it now has some new competition from itself. Namely in the form of the new 2014 VW Jetta Hybrid that came our way recently. The Jetta Hybrid looks identical inside and out to the normally aspirated and TDI versions and is enveloped in the same body shell.
The difference obviously is in the power plant. The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid features a turbocharged engine and an electric motor. Other hybrid features such as a large capacity battery and regenerative braking from the brakes allows the Jetta Hybrid to run solely on electricity for short periods at low speed.
Powertrain wise, the 2014 Jetta Hybrid comprises of a 1.4-litre turbocharged gas engine producing 150 horsepower, combined with a 20KW electric motor that draws power from a 220-volt, 60-cell lithium-ion battery pack. Total output for the system is 177 horsepower, with 184 pound-feet of torque. With the electric motor it’s good for a consistent 114 lb-ft of torque on its own. Transmission is via a 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic Tiptronic transmission. The Jetta Hybrid’s EPA combined rating of 5.2 L/100km and a highway number of 4.9 L/100km is an obvious benefit of this power plant.
Inside the Jetta Hybrid is as comfortable as its other siblings in the lineup with good seats and the trademark decent ergonomics and high quality.
The dash information screens display the hybrid system’s current state, and the tachometer is replaced by a meter that shows whether the powertrain is in “charge,” “eco,” “power” or “boost” state. Using the “E-Mode” optimizes the powertrain for low-speed, electric-only driving handy in low speed traffic crawling where you will be using no gas at all!
Our tester was an impressive 2014 Onyx White Pearl four-door sedan model with a smart looking Titan black –Vienna leather interior.
Standard equipment on our tester included: 17-inch “Buenos Aires alloys with all-season tires, six way power driver seats, Bi- Xenon headlights with adaptive front light system, Fender premium audio system, KESSY Keyless access with stop/start button, leather seating, blue tooth phone connectivity, LED daytime running lights and taillights, power sunroof, Climatronic dual zone climate control, Multi-function Steering wheel and a host of other features. Base price for the well-equipped model was $35,300 with $300 option of Onyx pearl white paint for a final tally of $35,600 plus taxes and PDI.
On the road the Hybrid feels faster and more responsive and quicker than its hybrid competition and seems as fast as the base gasoline engined 2.5-litre five-cylinder equipped Jetta.
On starting – the electric motor can enable the car to function in fully electric mode, when fully charged and according to load to accelerate up to 60 km/h or 70 km/h when one programs the more fuel efficient “E-Mode” function. Note, this is for a short time until the gas motor kicks in when the computer determines and smoothly transition the car to all- gas mode. The smooth-shifting, seven-speed DSG gearbox is a stand out, providing seamless transitions for easy glitch free cruising. The Hybrid only comes with an automatic transmission.
Steering is light and responsive enough, but not as sporty as the GLI model. The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid’s ride is comfortable and quiet at speed. It is ultimately a nice, relaxing car to drive like all the Jetta models with no vices in particular.
Note one feature about hybrid is the way the brakes operate and the Jetta hybrid is no different in this regard. Regenerative brakes use hydraulics and electric-motor resistance to slow the car so generating power that goes back to the battery. However a tradeoff is that the brakes can feel slow and disconnected. The Jetta’s brakes are powerful enough and one need to become adjusted and use foot pedal pressure in a different way to get the hang of when and how to apply them.
In comparison to fuel efficiency versus the price of a gas engined Jetta, the Hybrid has the edge, but will take longer to pay off the higher price difference in terms fuel saved.
With highway economy ratings of 5.5 L/100km for the TDI and 4.9 L/100km for the Hybrid you have to bear in mind that diesel is more expensive than regular gasoline It is a hard choice to make between the Jetta TDI and the hybrid. The hybrid is fuel efficient, yet more expensive, but is a more compelling, sportier, fun to drive hybrid than the competition. Meanwhile the Jetta TDI has the manual gearbox option and the tried and trusted, absolutely bulletproof legendary diesel power plant and amazing amounts of torque. All credit to Volkswagen – they have another feather in their cap and continue the rich tradition of quality and reputation. The Jetta Hybrid is worth a serious look if you like premium German cars and want a hybrid alternative.
2014 Volkswagen Jetta hybrid- priced as tested $35,300 plus taxes