The Two Roads of Volkswagen – Diesel and Hybrid

VW Jetta HybridOn a bright shiny white stage were Volkswagen’s greenest presentations at the Chicago Auto Show – a Beetle TDI (diesel), and the Jetta Hybrid, in pure flat white. Both of them looked pretty good up there on their clean-looking display, and I almost didn’t miss that there was nothing completely electric.

The Hybrid Jetta Has Good Mileage, Looks Great

Volkswagen wants you to know that the Jetta can be driven on battery power alone up to 44mph, that it goes 0-60 in under 9 seconds (perfectly average, by the way), and that it gets 45mpg combined. It only goes about a mile, mile and a quarter, under battery power alone, but that does still get you to the nearest station (hopefully) if you run the tank bone-dry.  No official word on emissions, though, carbon dioxide or otherwise.

The problem with the Jetta is the same problem that nearly every other automaker has with integrating an electric motor and its batteries – the trunk space suffers. Oh, how it suffers. There’s a giant shelf eating up much of the trunk space, and a tiny pass-through for when you’ve got skis or something. The seats do fold down, but the batteries take up so much space that whatever you’re transporting had better be fairly flat or it’s not going in there.

The Diesel Bug Is Manly!

We’ve talked about the problems with diesel here on Gas2, but the up side is that the Beetle TDI isn’t going to be burning a whole lot of it. VW wants you to know that it gets 29mpg city and 39mpg highway (much better than either the Beetle 2.5 or Beetle Turbo, but not the best diesel mileage out there), and that it’s “more masculine” than previous Bugs. No, really, that’s what the press release they handed us said. The press release was on a thumb drive shaped like a key, by the way, making it easily the most awesome hand-out at the show.

In addition to not burning too much diesel, VW is taking steps to reduce emissions; this diesel Beetle does have a particulate filter and three catalytic converters (for oxidation, nitrogen oxides, and hydrogen sulfide). The engine then makes only 140HP for a 3,000 lb. car, but it should be pretty drivable.

VW also pointed out that even though the roof is flatter, there’s still space in the rear seat. I did not actually climb into the rear seat, but since it’s not a hybrid, there’s plenty of storage space once the seats fold down. Points for the diesel hatchback.

Final impressions on the VW green display – not bad, not bad, definitely worth a test drive (we weren’t allowed to drive these display cars either, so you’ll have no preconceptions there).

Questions or opinions? Let us know in the comments below the gallery.

Source | Images: Chicago Auto Show.

Charis Michelsen

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.