Volkswagen has announced that its 2013 Jetta Hybrid became the fastest hybrid production-based car in the world during Southern California Timing Association’s (SCTA) annual Speed Week. Motor Trend Associate Road Test Editor Carlos Lago was in the driver's seat of the specially-modified compact sedan when it set the new hybrid speed record of 185.394 mph (298.363 km/h) at the Bonneville Salt Flats, near Wendover, Nevada last week.
In order to comply with SCTA rules, VW says that the record-breaking Jetta's powertrain was altered by the company's R&D team in Wolfsburg, Germany, to ramp up the available horsepower. Engineers from Volkswagen Test Center California took care of drivetrain implementation and final calibration, and further mods were undertaken by California's A-Salt Racing and Advanced Product Engineering to make sure the car could run safely on the famous Salt Flats.
"It was a real challenge to integrate the complex hybrid elements and generate the power needed to run at these speeds," said VW's Marc Trahan. "The Jetta Hybrid Land Speed Record project shows both the sporty nature of our Hybrid offering and the technical excellence of our engineers in Wolfsburg and in the Test Center California."
The 2013 Jetta Hybrid was announced in January 2012 and is scheduled for release in the U.S. toward the end of this year. VW expects the vehicle to achieve a combined fuel economy of 45 mpg (19.1 km/l), using about 20 percent less fuel than a similarly-powered sedan with a conventional drivetrain. It features a 1.4-liter turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder TSI gasoline powerplant that weighs just 216 pounds (98 kg) and develops 150 horsepower. It can get to 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in less than 9 seconds and is also claimed to be the first hybrid car to use a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
An additional 27 hp is provided by a 20 kW electric motor that's powered by a compact 220-volt, 1.1 kWh Li-ion battery pack of 60 individual cells integrated behind the rear bench seat. The Jetta Hybrid can be driven in pure electric mode at speeds up to 44 mph (70 km/h), although only for a distance of 1.2 miles (1.9 km). The vehicle also makes use of regenerative braking to feed kinetic energy back to the Li-ion battery but is claimed to do so more efficiently than other systems.
When Jetta's driver releases the gas pedal to apply the brake, the car's decoupling clutch disengages the ICE engine so that all the retardation is done by the brakes rather than a combination of brakes, drivetrain drag and engine torque. VW says that this releases more energy back to the battery.
Provided there's enough charge for the electric motor to operate, the Jetta Hybrid’s gasoline engine is stopped when the car comes to a halt in city driving or stop/go traffic situations. When the driver kicks down, or the lever is in the S position or in the manual shift gate, the drive system combines the power of the electric motor and gas engine to provide a peak output of 170 hp.
The Jetta Hybrid is reported to be the quietest car that VW has ever produced in the compact sedan class, weighs less than 3310 pounds (1501 kg) and includes Bluetooth technology, LED taillights and a SiriusXM satellite radio as standard. Safety features include six airbags, Electronic Stability Control, and anti-lock brakes.