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Volkswagen aims to break land speed record on Bonneville salt flats with new Jetta; 500+ PS EA888 engine

Between 11 and 17 August, Volkswagen of America will aim to break the land speed record in the BGC/G class of the Southern California Timing Association on Lake Bonneville—the salt flats in the US state of Utah—with its specially prepared but near-production version of the new-generation Jetta.


This Volkswagen is powered by a four-cylinder turbo engine (TSI) from the EA888 engine family with a power output of significantly more than 500 PS. A similar engine with a slightly more demure power rating will also be used in the new Jetta GLI, which will soon be taking off in the US.

Engines in this high-torque series are used to power vehicles including the Golf GTI Performance (169 kW / 230 PS) and the Golf R3 (228 kW / 310 PS). On Lake Bonneville, the TSI engine must accelerate the modified Jetta to more than 208.572 mph (335.5 km/h) to equal the existing record for a car in this class. To get an idea of the speed: racing cars on the legendary Hunaudières track battle it out at speeds of 340 km/h in the “24 Hours of Le Mans”.

With this attempt at the record we want to underline the sporting potential of the new Jetta and inspire our customers with the more powerful Jetta GLI.

—Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen of America

The record-breaking car can reach a speed of more than 335 km/h as it is very light (the interior contains only the controls for driving, a bucket seat with racing belts and a roll cage) and has excellent aerodynamics (Cd value: 0.27) As in the case of the I.D. R Pikes Peak (Earlier post.), the aerodynamics also ensure a very high downward thrust. This factor is essential in making sure the Jetta stays safe on the salt flat track, even at extreme speeds.

The Jetta, developed by Volkswagen of America in cooperation with the Bonneville specialists at THR Manufacturing in Ventura, California, has further technical refinements on board: in addition to a very low chassis, these include special salt flats wheels and tires, a limited slip differential for optimum grip and two brake parachutes in the rear end.

If the attempt succeeds, this Jetta will be the fastest near-production Volkswagen ever to be put on wheels. This record is currently held by a 399 kW / 543 PS Beetle LSR, which—also powered by an EA888 engine—reached a speed of 205.122 mph (330.11 km/h) on Lake Bonneville.


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