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 |  Jan 09 2012, 1:13 PM

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Volkswagen‘s sixth generation Jetta, which debuted for 2011, has clearly struck a chord with American buyers. It helped the automaker boost sales by some 24 percent in the U.S. in November and is currently the most popular European branded car in our market.

Now VW is looking to strengthen the Jetta’s position with this, a Hybrid version. Making it’s world debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show as a 2013 model, the Jetta Hybrid boasts a number of interesting features.

Teaming VW’s 150 horsepower, 1.4-liter  turbo four-cylinder (the first time this engine has been offered in the US), along with a 20 kW electric motor,  the latest Jetta is able to reach speeds of up to 44 mph on electric power alone and VW claims it’s the fastest accelerating Hybrid in the compact class, able to accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 9 seconds. It also says it will achieve a combined 45 miles per gallon city/highway.

Helping that cause, is the first seven-speed transmission installed in a Hybrid, in this case a Dual-Clutch unit. Not only was the DSG utilized to provide faster shifting, it also weighs 163 lbs, less than a regular automatic, an important consideration due to the added mass of the lithium-ion battery pack over the conventional gas engine Jetta.

That said despite the batteries, reported actual curb weight for the Jetta Hybrid is some 3,310 lbs, which makes it one of the lighter gas/electric offerings on the market.

Other features aimed at saving fuel include special 15-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tires and a tweaked front fascia that’s said to reduce drag coefficient by some 10 percent over other Jetta models. And of course, there’s Hybrid emblems on all four sides of the vehicle, so you can, with subtlety, announce to the world that you’re into having fun on the open road while showing a vested interest in saving the planet.

GALLERY: Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Detroit Auto Show Coverage here