From a company best known for its fun-to-drive cars and diesel engines comes a greener way to save fuel. Now when I first test-drove it last year, I declared it was the best-driving hybrid I had ever evaluated. And for its second model year, that statement still holds true. Though it took VW a long time to produce a gas-electric hybrid car, when they finally did it they did it right. What I want from a hybrid is transparency, meaning I don’t what to be constantly reminded by strained engine sounds and lackluster performance that I’m driving one. And the Jetta simply says, jump in and let’s go. The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual clutch transmission are really what separated the Jetta Hybrid from the rest of its competitors. It’s truly fun-to-drive and returns double digit MPG savings over a Jetta TDI. A small but purposeful lithium-ion battery pack residing over the rear axle feeds an electric motor which can add another 27 horsepower to the mix in addition to an immediate 114 pound-feet of torque giving the Jetta its agreeable responsiveness.That raises total system output to 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. And a hybrid with a kick-in-your-seat sport mode? That’s the VW way. Full electric mode can work up to speeds of 44mph and an E-mode can lock you in for short periods. To steal an old line from a men’s clothier, you’re gonna’ like the way this hybrid drives, I guarantee it. As for changes for the 2014 model year, there’s a new multifunction information display in the gauge cluster. But more importantly, this car debuts the new VW Car-Net; a subscription-based service for both safety and convenience. A 6-month free-trial then leads to a monthly charge of $17.99 or less and all services — including agent destination assist — are included.A free smartphone app adds even more functionality. The new configurable color display sits to the right of the tach-replacing Power Meter — a cool feature letting you know when you’re regenerating electricity by braking or coasting, driving frugally or commanding full hybrid mode to achieve full system output. The small navi screen, on the other hand, feels old and chintzy. My last tester was the top-of-the-line SEL Premium, but this time I’m down 1 notch in the middle SEL trim, adding 16″ alloy wheels, a sunroof, heated seats and the touchscreen navi with backup cam over the base Jetta Hybrid SE. Gas mileage, on premium, is rated at 42mpg
city/48mpg highway and no, I didn’t hit either mark during this battery-sapping Polar Vortex reign — averaging mostly in the high 30’s instead.My tester, with everything included stickers for $31,065. The 2014 Jetta continues to be a hidden gem in the compact hybrid segment. .