By on July 9, 2018

Our fancy-pants Managing Ed recently sampled der neue Jetta, finding it to be a satisfactory machine but opining that the motor lacked punch.

Perhaps the engine in this Jetta will be more to his liking.

Built by Bonneville preparation specialists THR Manufacturing, based in Ventura, Calif., VW says this Jetta previews the powertrain that will be used in the forthcoming Jetta GLI performance model. Currently, all Jettas are powered by the 147 horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter driven by Mr. Healey — even the so-called R-Line trim, which is essentially an appearance package.

Volkswagen is hopeful it can beat the existing class record of 208.472 mph, showcasing the potential performance the EA888 engine can achieve with modifications. The company is mum on specific power output, but does insist the 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct injected four-cylinder engine in this Bonneville machine is simply a modified unit of what will appear in showrooms.

“With the attempt on the Bonneville speed record with the Jetta, we want to underline the Jetta’s sporty credentials and get customers excited for the more performance-oriented Jetta GLI on the way,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, VW CEO of the North America Region. With customers rapidly flocking to crossovers and SUVs, any extra attention Volkswagen can draw to their new sedan will be welcome.

In what is the world’s most obvious statement, year-to-date sales of most compact sedans have either stalled or fallen off the preverbal cliff. Honda’s Civic, ever the industry darling and default choice for many who simply want “a car,” is showing no growth at all in 2018. The other mainstay small sedan, Toyota Corolla, is off by over 10 percent. For its part, the Jetta is down about 40 percent compared to this time last year. Woof.

As you’d expect, running high speed on the salt requires a Jetta that is far from stock. The suspension has been lowered, special Salt Flat smoothie wheels and tires are fitted, and a limited-slip differential added to aid traction. Its interior was stripped with vigor normally reserved for the most senior chop shop employees, then outfitted with safety equipment like a roll cage and racing seat. A fire suppression system is onboard in case it all goes haywire. To help slow the car down, the Bonneville Jetta has been fitted with a pair of parachutes. These are not options one will find at their VW dealer.

VW will make the run at Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, during events planned for August 11th to 17th.

[Images: Volkswagen of America]

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