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UK drive proves Bluemotion is a better real-world eco solution than a hybrid

Our Verdict

More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf, Europe's best selling car that's now in its seventh generation?

What is it?

The eco-car at its simplest and best: this is VW’s new Golf Bluemotion, which we’ve just sampled in right-hand drive, and in the UK, for the first time.

While the last Golf Bluemotion used VW’s noisy 1.9-litre pumpe-duse turbodiesel lump, this new one runs a cleaner and quieter 1.6 that produces 104bhp – one horsepower more than the last car – and 184lb ft of torque.

It’s the same engine that runs in the entry-level Golf diesel, except for the Bluemotion it’s got a modified crankshaft, cylinder head and oil pump, an intelligent alternator that runs faster while you’re braking or decelerating for a mild form of regenerative braking, and a starter-generator for automatic stop-start.

Elsewhere, the Golf Bluemotion has low-resistance tyres, a taller gearset for its five-speed manual gearbox, some very subtle aerodynamic modifications, and sports suspension that lowers it on its wheels and thereby reduces drag.

All of which combines for carbon emissions of just 99g/km – making this Golf free to tax – and a combined fuel economy claim of 74.3mpg.

What’s it like?

First and foremost, it’s a sixth-generation VW Golf, so it’s roomy, very impressively designed and built, appointed with precision and care and, concurrently, also about as desirable as economy cars get.

The current Golf’s excellent packaging and adjustable seats allow for loads of headroom in this car, as much legroom as four adults really need, and a first-class driving position. Like its rangemates, this Golf steers and handles with assured and polished precision too. It’s a little more stiffer-legged than you might expect - thank those sports springs – and there are occasions when its ride quality feels a little choppy. Thankfully, they’re rare.

Refinement is the one attribute this car offers that you don’t expect. That tall gearset doesn’t make it a great performer, but it does mean that, at 70mph, the engine’s turning over at just 2000rpm, and doing so quietly enough that you can hardly hear it.

The act of getting this car to 70mph isn’t going to worry the muscles in your neck, but it’s easy enough. There are times, when overtaking on the motorway or climbing gradients across country, when the combination of that tall top gear and modest torque quota means you’ll need to reach for fourth gear. Likewise, making progress in town can call for frequent trips through the ‘box; at 35mph, the car’s gearshift indicator will advise you to be in fourth, but if you want to accelerate at anything other than retirement pace, you’ll need third.

All that gear-changing makes driving this car feel strangely old-fashioned – like diesels used to feel 25 years ago. And yet driving it remains a gratifying experience, because you don’t mind working with that solid-feeling gear linkage when you reward is such excellent fuel economy.

And what we mean by ‘excellent’ is a long way north of 60mpg on a decent out-of-town run. The car we drove had fewer than 2000 miles recorded and yet still it turned in 63.1mpg on a 100-mile trip down the M1, moving with mixed traffic between 50 and 75mph. Once its engine has loosened up properly, 70mpg might be possible, provided you’re not in a rush. And in this tester’s experience, a Toyota Prius or Honda Insight couldn’t get within 10mpg of that on the same run. They wouldn’t be much more frugal in town, either.

Should I buy one?

If what you want is a frugal and cheap-to-keep family car without too many bells and whistles, absolutely. This car’s more than £2000 cheaper than a Ford Focus Econetic, costs over £1000 less than the cheapest Toyota Prius, and is just as refined and usable as the latter.

The new Golf Bluemotion is a provider of effective low-cost motoring without the frills, but with a healthy portion of quality, class, practicality and VW brand cache. It proves that a small, clever diesel internal combustion engine still beats the most sophisticated petrol-electric hybrid powertrain out there in the real world. And it succeeds in making getting around cheaply feel really rather special.

Join the debate

Comments
40

30 October 2009

[quote Autocar] it's also a better real-world bet than any hybrid. [/quote]

What's the real world economy of the Bluemotion? 20mpg less than the EU figures? 30mpg less than the EU figures? Until we know that it's hard to assess the eco-claims of this car or others like it. It would be valuable to quote a prediction from the first test drive, even if based on the trip computer (with an appropriate disclaimer).

30 October 2009

[quote m_bowl]What's the real world economy of the Bluemotion? 20mpg less than the EU figures? 30mpg less than the EU figures?[/quote] i've been driving one as a demo since last monday. as of me parking it up today, the trip computer reads an average 64.7 mpg, and that's a good rounded mix of motorway, town and cross country roads.

30 October 2009

Can someone explain to me why all these "Eco" versions of existing cars are more expensive than the standard version? I doubt if any of them cost a penny more to manufacture, so the manufacturers are just cashing in ... as usual.

If they were serious about promoting more economical motoring, these eco versions would be CHEAPER than the regular car, to encourage us all to buy one. Is it is, this is yet another way of hiding behind the so called "green" fashion to make yet more profit.

30 October 2009

[quote DavidMR]i've been driving one as a demo since last monday. as of me parking it up today, the trip computer reads an average 64.7 mpg, and that's a good rounded mix of motorway, town and cross country roads.[/quote]

Erm no you havent, the one tested here isn't out in the UK yet. You must have been driving the slightly older MK6 1.6 TDI Bluemotion, which isnt as economical and has higher CO2 emissions. Dont believe me? Type your cars info into this page and it will tell you the CO2 output - http://www.taxdisc.direct.gov.uk/EvlPortalApp/application?origin=vnav_bar.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=Vehicle+Enquiry

30 October 2009

[quote J400uk]Erm no you havent, the one tested here isn't out in the UK yet. [/quote] erm...yes i have, and, erm, i don't remember you sitting beside me.

30 October 2009

Sounds impressive although I prefer ground clearance to sports suspension. But what about the other noxious gas outputs from a diesel? Does it splurge sooty exhaust over pedestrian and cyclists when its doing 0-60 in 11 seconds? Does it have a particulate filter and does it work? Even recent C class Mercedes, let alone Fords etc seem to blot their copybook with these visible emissions when accelerating hard let alone the ones you cant see. Can diesel really be "green"?

30 October 2009

[quote DavidMR]the trip computer reads an average 64.7 mpg[/quote]

Your result looks good, but my experience of a Golf trip computer is that it flatters by at least 5%. I find it more meaningful to consider actual consumption calculated from brim-to-brim. For a last model 1.9TDI covering 10,000 miles (mixed, but about 60% of journeys less than 10 miles) I achieved actual measured consumption of just over 56 mpg, which I found satisfying enough, and that is for a car rated with "combined" at around 54 mpg.

30 October 2009

[quote Adrian987]Your result looks good, but my experience of a Golf trip computer is that it flatters by at least 5%. [/quote] My experience too, similarly with an Octavia i once had. also, don't know about you, but i found the vw tdi unit took a long time to "loosen up", it became significantly more economical by 30 - 40,000 miles.

30 October 2009

[quote DavidMR]but i found the vw tdi unit took a long time to "loosen up", it became significantly more economical by 30 - 40,000 miles.[/quote]

I will have to reserve judgement on that one, but I suspect my experience will be similar. It is all very much dependent upon usage and driving style. The best I have got out of a single tank (to warning light) has been 675 miles, but that was predominently motorway at responsible speeds, and that equated to about 63/64. It does have Michelin Energy Saver tyres, but no lowered suspension or other tricks.

30 October 2009

[quote DavidMR]i've been driving one as a demo since last monday. as of me parking it up today, the trip computer reads an average 64.7 mpg, and that's a good rounded mix of motorway, town and cross country roads.[/quote]

You've been driving the Bluemotion Technology SE not the full Bluemotion kit that's fitted to this even the standard 1.6 TDi economy is extremely respectable.

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