Sometimes I don’t know what I enjoy more about my job, getting to drive wonderful cars or having that privilege in new, exotic travel destinations. I was fortunate to have ample seat time in the new, 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid, whilst experiencing Santa Fe New Mexico for the first time. As enjoyable the scenery and vibe of our location was, the highlight was cruising across the high desert with speed and grace.
On approach, only those with a keen eye will be able to distinguish the Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Hybrid from the non-hybrid version. Updated alloy wheels in 15, 16, and 17 inch sizes are probably your best clue. The subtle blue drop shadow, trimming out the front and rear badges will also indicate to you that something is different about this Jetta. Overall, it continues a refined evolution of design of both the Jetta model, and the complete Volkswagen brand.
Once settled inside, you begin to see and feel the quality that separates the 2013 VW Jetta Turbo Hybrid from its competitors. The standard leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel is a joy to grasp, alluding to the overall premium nature of the entire vehicle. The no nonsense gauge cluster includes two easy to read dials, trimmed in chrome, that are nestled to either side of the car’s standard Multi-Function Instrument. The left dial is important to highlight, as it is the new “Power Meter”, taking place of the traditional tachometer. Although the needle of the Power Meter sits at zero when the Jetta is at a standstill, it will climb as you accelerate and gain speed, and it indicates to you your level of consumption, both gasoline through the engine and electricity through the motor. Keeping the needing in the 0-6, or blue range, is what is termed the Eco Mode, or most efficient driving style.
The Power Meter maxes out at 10, which is Boost Mode, where the Jetta Turbo Hybrid is achieving full system output, by having the electric motor and gasoline engine work together. Once the accelerator is released, the Power Meter’s needle will drop to 0, and then into negative territory. That is the green range, used to show that the car is now making electricity, to store in the ever so svelte battery pack. On the SE model and above, a more thorough view of the current status of the car’s energy thriftiness is seen on the radio/navigation touch screen, that is mounted in the center console. I particularly enjoyed the diagram of the car and it’s underlying drive train, showing in orange and blue (gasoline and electricity, respectively) where the power is coming from at any given moment, based on my driving style. This became the default screen I chose to have showing while underway.
The way the Jetta Turbo Hybrid feels as you drive it is like a non-hybrid version of the Jetta. Great handling, firmly planted to the road, confidently steering you through the curves and over uneasy terrain. Exactly how a car should be, except this one also gives you the added benefit of being a hybrid. The switch from gasoline to electric is hard to notices, when you are or aren’t trying pay attention. It’s that stealth. The way the electric motor takes up the energy upon breaking is my only gripe, as it is grabby and can seem heavy footed when an otherwise experienced driver would finesse the pedal better. Being a turbocharged car, the requirement of premium fuel should not come as a surprise, and it worth paying as it gets you class best acceleration, while delivering a manufacturer estimated highway mileage of 45 mpg.
With all the option available to the consumer, it is time to buy a car that is a hybrid, rather than a hybrid that is a car. The 2013 Jetta Turbo Hybrid is that car that happens to be a hybrid, giving the best of both worlds. Starting at under $25k, it is the “Car Guy’s Hybrid” that you can be proud to own and drive, and will really set the standard moving forward.