A specially modified 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid has become the fastest production-based hybrid vehicle ever to streak across the dry lake bed at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats, turning in a top speed of 185.394 mph. The run took place at the Southern California Timing Association's (SCTA) annual Speed Week gathering with Motor Trend Magazine's Road Test Editor Carlos Lago behind the wheel of this one-off version of the new Jetta Hybrid that goes on sale here later this year.

Neither MT nor VW divulged any tuning tweaks that were performed on the powertrain, which in stock form matches Volkswagen's 1.4-liter/150-horsepower turbocharged/direct-injected TSI gasoline engine with a 27-horse electric motor, a pairing that drives the car's front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. However, the drivetrain was modified by the automaker in Wolfsburg and fine-tuned by the Volkswagen Test Center California in Oxnard, California, to conform to the SCTA's H/PS (Hybrid/Production Supercharged) rules that permit the use of a 1.016-1.532-liter engine. Project integration and various other modifications necessary make the car run safely at speed on this demanding venue handled by A-Salt Racing and Advanced Product Engineering, in nearby Camarillo.

Because of SCTA requirements regarding manufacturer production rates, the effort did not qualify for official Land Speed Record status. That will have to wait until later this year when Lago and this rapid Jetta Hybrid return to Bonneville after the car actually hits the showrooms. Barring any last-minute weather-related issues, an H/PS LSR mark seems like a sure thing, as this first outing showed the car to be over 50 mph faster through the traps than the previous hybrid best which was established by a modified Toyota Prius.

"Achieving this speed at Bonneville shows that the all-new 2013 Jetta Hybrid is a distinctly different offering in the compact hybrid class," said Jonathan Browning, CEO and president, VW Group of America. "As well as being expected to achieve combined fuel economy of 45 mpg, the Jetta Turbo Hybrid also retains the fun-to-drive nature you expect from a Volkswagen in a segment dominated by less exciting vehicles."

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