World speed record for hybrid Jetta

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We all know by now that hybrids aren’t necessarily slow, but to drive the point home resoundingly Volkswagen took the extraordinary and unlikely step of pumping up a petrol-electric Jetta to achieve almost 300km/h at Bonneville Salt Flats in the US this month.

Driven by associate road test editor of the US car magazine Motor Trend Carlos Lago, the special Jetta, which was modified to sit within Southern California Timing Association rules, ran 298.363km/h to set the fastest-ever top speed recorded by a hybrid.

To get the normally Golf-based sedan (which under regular circumstances produces 112kW from its 1.4-litre turbo engine) up to speed, Volkswagen called in its R&D centre in Wolfsburg to give the powertrain a workover, while entrusting A-Salt Racing and Advanced Product Engineering in Camarillo, California, with the business of ensuring the rest of the car was up to the task. Implementation and final calibration of the drivetrain was supported by Volkswagen’s test centre in Oxnard, California.

According to test pilot Lago’s report in Motor Trend, “Driving on the salt is like nothing else. It’s totally different than asphalt because of the lack of traction, and also because of the absence of visual reference points. Accelerating past the quarter-mile markers gives you this intense tunnel vision. You’re driving towards a blank horizon, just bare blue sky crashing into the white salt, and quickly passing these black boxes that mark your distance along the way. The exhaust blares behind you and the sound of air being pushed aside comes from everywhere else.

“I was most impressed with the Jetta Hybrid’s near-silent, all-electric exits out of the starting gate. Only after a few seconds did the engine roar into life for the rest of the run.”

And nearly 300km/h isn’t all of it for Motor Trend. The magazine’s editor in chief Ed Loh said after the record breaking run that the magazine hopes to have the Jetta “back at the Salt very soon to go even faster."

Motor Trend, which has 1.1 million magazine subscribers and more than three million website users, is part of the Source Interlink Media group (SIM) and until late last year was edited by expatriate Australian Angus MacKenzie. He is now the group’s chief content officer responsible for developing editorial, entertainment and advertising content strategies across all of its brands.