by Dan Grey: MPGOmatic.com
I can hear what you’re thinking … Volkswagen, selling a hybrid sedan?
Aren’t VW’s fuel-efficient TDIs the best-selling passenger car diesels in America?
Indeed they are, but VW faced a dilemma.
The typical Toyota Prius owner, they say, rarely considers buying a diesel.
So Volkswagen decided to build a hybrid of their own. A very different hybrid. One with a turbocharged engine. Marketed to folks that love to drive.
The typical hybrid has a continuously variable (CVT) transmission, lackluster handling, and a rather unsporting demeanor. The Jetta Turbo Hybrid, by contrast, has a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission and a suspension that’s rewarding to drive through the twisty bits.
In order to best show the Jetta Hybrid’s potential, Volkswagen invited a group of automotive journalists out to New Mexico, to enjoy a spectacular drive from Santa Fe to Taos and back. I had the good fortune to be able to tag along.
The Jetta Hybrid boasts the most rear-seat legroom and largest trunk in in its class. To prove the latter point, Chicago-based automotive journalist Jill Ciminillo, a.k.a. The Girl in the Trunk, applied her rather unique method of measurement. (The video is a must see!)
A rear spoiler, front air dam, extended side skirts, and underbody trickery lower the Jetta Hybrid’s Coefficient of Drag (Cd) to 0.28, a solid improvement over the standard Jetta’s already respectable 0.30.
While the official EPA estimates were not available at the time of testing, Volkswagen is aiming for 45 miles per gallon (MPG) combined. Through four hours or so of driving, we averaged approximately 46 MPG, with some hefty climbs through the hills and plenty of foot on the throttle. Volkswagen claims a 0-60 mile per hour (MPH) time of 8.6 seconds, and while we didn’t have the opportunity to time (or shoot) a run, it’s clearly that fast.
Faster than one might expect from a 1.4-liter hybrid … were it not turbocharged.
In Boost mode – with the electric motor working in concert with the turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline-powered engine – the drive train produces a total of 170 horsepower (HP).
The Jetta Hybrid will run under electric power at speeds up to 37 or 44 miles per hour, when in “E-mode.” The engine will shut off while foot-off coasting at speeds all the way up to 84 MPH. The transitions between modes are seamless.
The dashboard includes a unique “Power Meter” to the left of the speedometer to indicate regeneration and efficient driving. It’s quite different from what most hybrid drivers may be accustomed to. While the LCD screen provides historical fuel economy data, we’d like to see more depth and features here. Adding a fuel economy training application would help drivers exceed the official mileage estimates.
Overall, VW’s engineers have hit the mark. The Jetta is the driver’s hybrid sedan.
Convertibles and winter generally don’t mix, unless you happen to live here in Southern California. No surprise then that Volkswagen is choosing to debut the all-new 2013 Beetle Convertible at the Los Angeles Auto Show before the car comes to showrooms at the end of the year.
Unlike many manufacturers, Volkswagen is eschewing a folding hard top in favor of a soft top that when lowered looks much like the previous New Beetle Convertible and the original Beetle Convertible before it.
Lowering the soft top takes only a little over ten seconds at the touch of a button; however, unlike previous Beetle droptops, the top stacks into its own compartment rather than on top of the rear decklid. This allows the 2013 Beetle Convertible to maintain the classic top-down looks of previous Beetles, without those models compromising rear visibility.
Inside things look familiar to the coupe. In fact, the Beetle Convertible maintains its coupe counterparts features from the body-color dash trim to the split-folding rear seats that allow for greater interior versatility.
The Automatic Rollover Support System is exclusive to the new Beetle Convertible, though. The system consists of two roll bars hidden behind the rear seat that are set to deploy and provide protection in the event of a rollover accident.
Three engines will be offered in the 2013 Beetle Convertible. The base engine continues to be the familiar 170-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. Those looking for more performance can move up to the 2.0T turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 200-horsepower.
Finally, consumers interested in fuel-efficiency can combine the classic looks of the Beetle Convertible with Volkswagen’s acclaimed 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine. All three engines can be had with a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic. The 2.0T and TDI engines use Volkswagen’s quick-shifting dual-clutch DSG transmission, while the five-cylinder uses a standard automatic with a torque converter.
by Zach McDonald: HybridCars.com
Volkswagen has announced pricing for its forthcoming Jetta hybrid, which is scheduled to be released later this year. The car will come in four trim levels, with the base model carrying a price tag of $24,995 plus a $795 destination charge. The Jetta Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient model in the Jetta lineup, which also features the Jetta TDI (coming in at $22,990 to start,) and the base model 4-door sedan (which starts at $15,515.)
The Jetta Hybrid will boast a combined fuel economy of 45 mpg, which is a significant improvement over the combined 34-mpg TDI, and the 28-mpg base model—though both of those cars display better highway mileage than their combined efficiency ratings indicate.
VW says the Jetta hybrid can go from 0-60 in under 9.0 seconds, which means it should outperform all other similarly priced hybrids, including the Prius c, which registers a time of 10.6 seconds in that test. In a stunt at the Bonneville Salt Flats this summer, Volkswagen proclaimed the Jetta Hybrid “the fastest hybrid in the world,” after hitting speeds of more than 185 mph in a modified version of the car. The market version of the Jetta Hybrid, of course, won’t go anywhere near that fast, but it’s still likely to be noticeably sportier than many of its peers.
The base $24,995 trim level will be available by order only, but will come with standard daytime running lights, automatic climate control, Bluetooth accessibility, and 15-inch aluminum alloy wheels. For about $2,000 more, the Hybrid SE edition will carry power reclining front seats, a media interface with an iPod cable, LED taillights, premium touch screen radio, keyless access, and push-button starting.
For $29,325 the Hybrid SEL comes with a power sunroof, heated front seats, and 16-inch aluminum allow wheels. The trim levels top out at $31,180 with the SEL Premium, which offers Bi-Xenon headlights with daytime LED running lamps, 17-inch wheels, and a premium Fender sound system with subwoofer.
Under the hood, all Jetta Hybrids will have a 1.4-liter direct-injected turbocharged engine, supplemented by a 27-horsepower electric motor, for a combined 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
by Zach McDonald: Hybridcars.com
At the 2012 Paris Motor Show last week, Volkswagen unveiled the seventh generation of its best-selling model, the Golf hatchback. The Golf MkVII is scheduled to hit the market for 2014, offering fuel economy improvements of 18 percent in its basic model and 15 percent in the high-efficiency Golf BlueMotion diesel over its predecessor.
Volkswagen did a total redesign for the generation seven, trimming the car down by about 220 pounds thanks to the light-weighting of numerous components ranging from the seats to the air-conditioner, and increased use of high-strength steel. Fuel economy estimates reflect the European test cycle, but if an 18-percent improvement holds true for the United States edition of the car, the new Golf could manage a combined efficiency of near 40 mpg without the use of hybrid battery system. The MkVII will also grow 2 inches longer and a half-inch wider, while shrinking in height by almost an inch, improving aerodynamics.
The Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion model that debuted at the show this week is the third generation to make its way off of the sketchpad. In 2009, VW unveiled a version of the car built on the MkVI Golf platform that was capable of 62. With the unveiling of the new MkVII platform, the concept was updated to include a variety of efficiency upgrades that will boost overall economy to 73.5 mpg. (Since the BlueMotion is only sold in Europe, both of these numbers are representative of the European test cycle, which is significantly more forgiving than the EPA’s test.)
The BlueMotion combines a clean diesel engine with stop-start and regenerative breaking, and is effectively a diesel hybrid. Diesel hybrids are considered by some to be the most powerful fuel-saving technology outside of plug-in electric vehicles, but have yet to be made available for the American market. Unfortunately for us, Volkswagen said in Paris that it has no plans to bring the latest BlueMotion to the U.S. either.
Strategic Vision recently announced the results of its 2012 Total Quality Index (TQI) study which measures how closely the experience of quality matches the expectations of the customer. Lead by the top-scoring Audi A8 Sedan, the Volkswagen Group has taken top honors in the latest Strategic Vision TQI survey. All aspects of the experience of buying, owning, and driving a vehicle, not just a measure of things gone wrong, interact to form an overall impression on the customer. That overall experience includes the emotional response the vehicle elicits, as well as its tangible attributes and factors such as reliability.
While the Luxury Car segment-leading Audi A8 achieved a TQI score of 942 (the highest on the list), the Audi A4 scored 917, earning honors as the best near-luxury car. The Volkswagen Golf earned top honors in the Small Multi-Function segment, racking up 874 points in the process. Even Volkswagen’s oft-overlooked convertible, the Eos, scored 902 points, enough to win the convertible category. The automaker’s compact crossover, the Tiguan, garnered 877 points to win the Entry Utility category.
According to Strategic Vision, the real message is that innovation is connected to perceptions of quality. If innovation is strong, especially such that customers can say they “love it,” when referring to the product, then perceptions of quality will be greatly (positively) influenced. Strategic Vision research has proven that those who recognize and acknowledge innovation (most new car buyers) will purchase, and not just be driven by counting problems. With all manufacturers being in such close traditional quality proximity (counting problems only), there is little question that those car manufacturers who offer rich and impactful, intuitively designed cars will have the advantage going into the future.
Read Strategic Vision’s press release for a complete list of segment winners.
Over 75,000 owners of new cars and light trucks in the United States were surveyed in the first quarter of 2012 to determine the winners of the AutoPacific & Autobytel 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA). Based on the results of the survey, the 2012 Volkswagen Passat has been awarded the title of America’s highest-rated Premium Mid-Size Car.
Aside from being built in a brand-new state-of-the-art facility outside Chattanooga, Tenn. the 2012 Volkswagen Passat is larger and more spacious than its predecessor, leading Volkswagen to claim best-in-class rear-seat legroom. Offering attributes like intelligent crash response, automatic climate control and a 3-year/36,000-mile free maintenance plan, along with a starting price under $21,000 goes a long way toward owner satisfaction.
Add a few features such as keyless entry, remote start, 18-inch wheels, navigation, leather, wood trim, and a six-cylinder engine, still coming under $35,000. Plus, even though the Passat is an American-built VW, it was engineered to run on the unlimited-speed Autobahn at full throttle. This means its switchgear is logically arrayed, its instrumentation is easy to read, and it is extraordinarily stable at high speeds.
Sum all that up, and you’ll come out with the best-rated premium mid-size car in America, the 2012 Volkswagen Passat.
The AutoPacific and Autobytel awards are designed to help consumers make choices in purchases by giving them true a “word-of-mouth” survey of experiences. The survey includes 48 individual vehicle attributes on which voters rank their vehicle in the ownership experience. Award winners are determined is based solely on owner input and the resulting measure of owner satisfaction demonstrated.
Neither AutoPacific nor Autobytel has a vote. In other words, the winners of the VSA are based purely on the numbers generated by the owner ratings. Auto Pacific does the arithmetic and Autobytel does the reporting. This makes the AutoPacific & Autobytel VSA very different from other automotive awards primarily concentrating on reliability, quality, or subjective journalist evaluations to the exclusion of how satisfied actual owners are with their vehicles.
by: Zach McDonald – HybridCars.com
An Australian couple has set a new record for single-tank fuel economy this week, making the more than 1,600-mile trip from Houston, Texas to Sterling, Virginia on just one tank of gas. The duo used an American-built 2012 Volkswagen Passat SE TDI Clean Diesel to set the new mark, beating the old one (also set in a diesel-powered Passat,) by 99.5 miles.
Over the course of their journey, Helen and John Taylor drove 1.626.1 miles, using 19.3 gallons of diesel and averaging more than 84 mpg. Their fuel costs averaged out to less than 5 cents per mile, whereas the average new vehicle currently sold in the U.S. will cost its owner more than three times as much to drive.
The couple used a regular, stock Passat TDI (which is rated at 30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway, and 36 mpg combined) for their drive, but were able to use so-called “hypermiling” techniques to get even better fuel economy from a car that is already one of the most efficient non-hybrid sedans on the road.
“The Passat TDI was the perfect car for the trip. It offers plenty of interior and cargo space, yet is frugal enough to help us achieve this record,” said John Taylor, in a press release provided by Volkswagen.
Though the Taylors have used a lot of Volkswagen-built diesels for their trips, their mission is about more than just promoting a single vehicle maker’s cars. Last year, they achieved nearly 75 mpg in a Toyota Prius hybrid driving across South Africa, and drove through every U.S. state in a Chevy Cruze Eco at an average of 64 mpg.
In fact, you might say that the couple have turned personal fuel economy into their life’s work. In addition to several record-setting attempts each year, the Taylors teach green-driving seminars through their Australia-based driving school, Fuel Academy. In all, the husband-wife team hold more than 90 world driving records.
To show our support for breast cancer awareness and research, we custom wrapped a brand new 2012 Beetle in pink! When this pink beauty is sold, we will donate $500 to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer began in 1993 and has raised over $450 million to help fight against breast cancer. For the last two years, LAcarGUY has been a close partner with Making Strides and we look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come.
The pink custom wrap was completed by Premier Wraps. They used the highest quality 3m vinyl that does not damage the vehicles original paint and every wrap comes with a life-time installation warranty. For more details, please give us a call!
by Zack McDonald Hybridcars.com
The Volkswagen Up! small car has been announced winner of the 2012 World Car of the Year at the New York Auto Show last week. The diminutive new vehicle beat out the Porsche 911 and BMW 3 series to take the honor, with judges citing superior innovation and refinement as the chief reasons for its selection.
“The little Volkswagen Up! has altered what we have come to expect from the citycar segment,” wrote the panel.”Of note are the responsive steering, sophisticated suspension setup, new efficient engines and the quality of materials and finish… Never before in this economy segment have owners felt so premium.”
The Up! has received critical acclaim and performed strongly in the market since its release in Europe late last year. Volkswagen says it hasn’t decided whether to bring a version of the car to the United States, where small cars are less common and the Up!’s 60-horsepower engine might not be enough to satisfy consumers. What might be very attractive to drivers here though is the vehicle’s 56 mpg under the forgiving European test cycle (official fuel economy numbers would be somewhat lower in the U.S.)
Volkswagen has shown off nearly a dozen variations on the Up! since its debut as a concept in 2007. Two of those variations are the e-Up! electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid modeled on VW’s “1-Liter” concept that gets 79 mpg. Other revealed Up! concepts include an outdoor adventure model called the X Up!, a five-door version, a GTI with 25 percent more horsepower, and the Eco Up!, which runs on both gasoline and compressed natural gas.
Why all the concepts? Volkswagen has been committed to developing what it calls its New Small Family (NSF) class for several years, meeting what it thinks will be emerging demand for ultracompact city vehicles in the coming years. Toyota, Fiat, BMW and others are also very interested in this segment, with Toyota having released its Scion iQ and Fiat its 500 in the United States in just the past year. The Volkswagen Group will be gradually rolling out a number NSF platform vehicles across its multiple nameplates, including a possible new Audi e-tron series.
As yet its still unknown how many of these cars will make it to North America, though Fiat has built significant momentum behind its 500 of late and there is evidence that American consumers are “thinking small” once again—always a good sign for the prospects of a diminutive Volkswagen offering in the United States.
by Zack McDonald: HybridCars.com
Slated to debut for 2015, Volkswagen says that its seventh-generation Golf will feature a slew of powertrain options—including a plug-in hybrid version that Auto Express recently rated 5-stars after briefly driving an early prototype. The plug-in hybrid Golf will join the forthcoming 2013 VW Blue E-Motion electric as one of two electric-drive variants on the carmaker’s most popular vehicle.
The prototype plug-in hybrid Golf is based on the currently available Golf platform—not on the Golf VII vehicle—but its powertrain is the same as the one in development for use in production versions of the Golf and other plug-ins. That powertrain features a 1.4-liter TSI turbocharged gasoline engine and an 80-kW electric motor. For the next-generation production version, the powerplants will sit on Volkswagen’s new Modular Transverse Matrix platform (abbreviated MQB in German,) which will allow the company to drop an array of drivetrain configurations into any MQB-based vehicle.
Volkswagen claims the plug-in hybrid Golf will offer up to 30 miles of electric-only range, which is similar to the Chevy Volt. Furthermore, VW notes that its plug-in Golf should be rated at approximately 117 MPGe U.S. (based on European test results) and emits 46 grams per kilometer of CO2.
“On the move, the plug-in Golf is very impressive indeed. Under most driving conditions it’s effectively an electric car—and you really need to press very hard on the throttle for the petrol engine to cut in at all,” according to Auto Express. “In town, it’s fast enough for you to breeze through traffic. Plus, the motor is so powerful, the engine is barely used on high-speed roads.”
Volkswagen expects the Golf Plug-in to be priced similarly to its turbocharged Golf GTI model, which currently starts at just under $24,000. That’s an impressive price point that should make the car competitive with other electric-drive options like the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt and Ford Focus Electric.
A closer-to-production Golf Plug-in concept is scheduled to be shown at the 2012 Paris Motor Show this September.