VW Bonneville Jetta set to conquer the salt flats at over 200 mph

The company will campaign a 2019 Jetta with a bigger turbocharged engine under the hood, in the hopes of breaking that two century mark.

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
2 min read
Volkswagen Bonneville Jetta
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Volkswagen Bonneville Jetta

The 2019 Bonneville Jetta is ready for some salt flat action.


Well, it looks like Volkswagen might just be pushing its motorsports program a bit. Just a few days before the company attempts to beat the EV record at the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb with the electric I.D. R, VW announced it will campaign a specially-tuned 2019 Jetta at Bonneville Speed Week, August 11-17 of this year in Wendover, Utah. The goal is to beat the existing class record of 208.472 miles per hour.

Instead of the standard 1.4-liter engine found in the 2019 Jetta, the Bonneville version will get a sauced-up version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine which will eventually feature in the Jetta GLI performance model. Volkswagen claims the Bonneville Jetta will pack 550 horsepower, but don't expect the GLI to come anywhere near that number. It will probably be closer to the 220 horsepower on tap in the current GTI.

Of course, it takes more than just some fancy tuning to make a small engine break the 200 mph barrier. The Bonneville Jetta has a lowered suspension and has lost some weight with a stripped interior. Traction gets a boost with a limited-slip differential and special wheels and tires made specifically for the famous salt flats. Safety gear includes a full roll cage, racing seat and harness and a fire suppression system. Volkswagen gave no specifics on beefier brakes to bring the Jetta to a stop, but did say it comes complete with a pair of parachutes.

If you want to try setting your own speed record, which we don't recommend doing on public roads, the 2019 Jetta is available now, with the sporty GLI coming sometime later this year. 

This VW Jetta is stripped down and seriously fast

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