VW and its subsidiary companies have some illustrious history at Bonneville, what with the Skoda Octavia that achieved 227mph and the 205mph Beetle GSR that scorched the salt in 2014. For 2018 it's heading back to Bonneville Speed Week (which commences on Saturday) with this, a Jetta GLI.
Except, of course, it's not a regular Jetta Gran Luxury Injection. Look at the parachutes, for example. And the wheels. And the paint job. That said, it's not as far removed from the showroom as you might expect, VW describing this Jetta as a "specially prepared but near-production version".
To that end it uses the same EA888 2.0-litre turbo that powers the roadgoing GLI (as well as the Golf GTI), albeit pumped up to "significantly more" than 500hp. The aim is for this Jetta to achieve more than 335.5km/h, or 208.6 mph, as that is the current record for the BGC/G class in which it will compete. To give that engine every chance possible, the interior has been stripped to save weight and the drag co-efficient is said to be 0.27Cd.
The car has been built by VW and THR Manufacturing in California, with extra modifications including a limited-slip diff - good luck getting a 500hp, front-wheel drive car going on salt without one! That's in addition to the special wheels and tyres, suspension work and parachutes.
As for the design, Reto Brun from VW has said: "We wanted to emphasise the technical charisma of the Jetta and give the car designer graphics that set it apart from the extraterrestrial-looking environment of the Bonneville Salt Flats." Just in case you were wondering...
It's not confirmed yet when exactly the Jetta will complete its Bonneville runs, though it stands to surpass two records if it's successful: not only that BGC/G class highest speed, but also the fastest "near-production" VW ever; tenuous, yes, but why not claim all the records you can? In fact VW is aiming for three records in three months, with the ID R having claimed titles at both Pikes Peak and Goodwood over the summer. Will the Jetta succeed? More news next week!