Hybrids Can Be Cool!

Here’s something cool: one reigning stereotype about hybrid cars was mangled by Volkswagen this week. Namely, that they’re slow, I mean, that is exactly what everybody thinks about them, right?

Ever since the early twentieth century people and companies with fast cars have been going to the Bonneville Salt Flats, in the US state of Utah, where the terrain is particularly suitable to go fast on. The incredibly flat and smooth surface has lent itself for countless speed records in the past, in many different categories.

There is no official hybrid category as of yet, but that hasn’t kept Toyota from running a Prius during the 2004 edition of the Bonneville Speed Week. This Landspeed Prius was pretty much stock, except for the transmission ratio of the final gear and a bunch of ice to keep the car cool enough to work. At a top speed of 130 mph the Prius was good at mainly showing one thing: that hybrids are slow.

A fallacy, as VW has now shown. The VW Jetta Hybrid, seemingly fitted with a stock 150 horsepower 1.4 TSI and a 27 hp electro-engine, as well as a seven-speed DSG automatic, stopped accelerating at just under 186 mph. They must have made some changes to the seventh speed and have also made some aerodynamic improvements, but even then that’s one seriously fast Jetta! Really, in theory that little hybrid should be able to keep up with most seriously quick Bimmers, Mercs and Audis on a clear German Autobahn.

But likely it’s all just exactly that, theory! If it indeed has that powerhouse, the car isn’t likely to perform any better than a fat kid against Usain Bolt and his Caribbean buddies. But to hell with all of that, Volkswagen just showed that hybrids can be cool, a much bigger achievement than going 186 mph!

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