Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept

Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept

Clearly, Volkswagen's intention here at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit is to demonstrate its commitment to "green" car technology and to give the environmentally minded consumer something to look forward to. Hence, it unveiled the conservative 2013 Jetta Hybrid and the cheeky all-electric E-Bugster concept.

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2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Click to enlarge pictureVolkswagen Jetta Hybrid (© Rod Hatfield)

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Click to enlarge pictureVolkswagen Jetta Hybrid (© Rod Hatfield)

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

What is it? The gas-electric hybrid version of Volkswagen's compact sedan, promising efficiency without too much performance loss or weight gain.

What's hot? It's a different kind of "hot," but the Jetta Hybrid should be 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the standard model while being the fastest compact hybrid sedan available — albeit with a lukewarm zero-to-60-mph run in the nine-second range.

What's not? The 2013 Jetta Hybrid gains 221 pounds in its conversion; not gigantic for a hybrid, but still not good for an already heavy compact sedan.

How much and when? No official announcement on pricing, but expect some word soon because Volkswagen is trying to have the Jetta Hybrid available by the end of 2012.

MSN Autos' verdict: On a scale from "audible yawn" to "running around the block screaming with no regard to pantslessness," the 2013 Jetta Hybrid earns a solid "That really didn't already exist? Are you sure?" We see nothing particularly wrong with the Jetta Hybrid; it seems like a perfectly welcome option in its class. It just strikes us as dull.

Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept

Click to enlarge pictureVolkswagen E-Bugster Concept (© Rod Hatfield)

Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept

Click to enlarge pictureVolkswagen E-Bugster Concept (© Rod Hatfield)

Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept

What is it? A one-off concept made to draw attention to Volkswagen's Blue-e-motion electric-drive system before its production debut in the Golf.

What's hot? The Bugster's chopped roof, 20-inch wheels and tweaked front and rear fascias have Beetle fans drooling for one.

What's not? Is it really wise to show off a concept that looks so much better than the production model so soon after said production model's release? We're not completely sold on the bigger rims, but why that roofline isn't on the "New" New Beetle is beyond us.

How much and when? Not available: The Bugster's uber-cool design is but a shell for the Blue-e-motion unit. This concept is a look at where the Bug might go were an electric model to be released.

MSN Autos' verdict: Build it, and they will come. Build it, then take the guts and put them in an exponentially less exciting body while never offering said body to the public, and you deserve some form of cosmic punishment.

James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.