What is it?

The most economical family saloon you can buy: the new Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI Bluemotion.

Aerodynamic tweaks, a long-geared five-speed gearbox and automatic stop-start help the 104bhp turbodiesel to achieve 62.8mpg and just 118g/km of CO2.

What’s it like?

It’s just as bland as you would expect, but this is also one of the least compromised and most affordable of the eco-specials in this class.

The biggest sacrifice you make in driving the Bluemotion every day is its five-speed manual gearbox, which requires more work than the six-speed ’boxes usually found in this class of car, particularly for around-town driving. But otherwise the Passat copes well despite its low 104bhp and 184lb ft of torque.

Acceleration is fairly sluggish, but the torque spread offers enough flexibility in the mid-range to make up for a slow 0-60mph time of 12.4sec. The performance on offer is certainly an acceptable compromise for the excellent economy that will be top of a lot of many buyers’ priority lists.

A good-sized 70-litre tank also helps reduce time at the pump, and in varied testing we managed 800 miles to one fill.

Otherwise the Bluemotion is as capable and as soulless as all the other Passat models.

The ride can be noisy over sharper intrusions but otherwise it’s supple and cushions occupants well.

Cabin noise is perfectly acceptable even at higher motorway speeds, when the 1.6 TDI engine proves particularly able at maintaining low revs and decent overtaking ability.

Should I buy one?

Despite myriad eco-specials on offer, there is nothing that quite manages to compete with this super-frugal Passat. The Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi Econetic is faster and more engaging, but it’s less economical and almost £2000 more expensive. The Skoda Superb Greenline 1.9 TDI is cheaper to buy but falls short of the VW’s low tax band.

That reason alone will have many company car buyers opting for the Passat, but in truth this is such a comfortable and usable saloon that anyone looking for an economical family car should consider it. If you’re not concerned by how very unexciting the 1.6 TDI Bluemotion is, there’s very little not to like.

Vicky Parrott

Join the debate

Comments
20

SDR

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

What a miserable, pointless machine this is. A 5 SPEED GEARBOX IN AN 'ECO' MODEL?!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!! Why does VAG persist in this absurdity?? It just does my nut, if you'll excuse a technical term. Why anyone would part with 20k for this feeble joyless heap is utterly beyond me - I could spend 10k on something a whole lot more satisfying, put away a grand for the extra running costs over the time I might keep it, and spend the remaining 9k on holidays and buns. Madness.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

My dad bought a 1.4 for mostly city driving. Even he finds it boring and has little to say about it even though his last car was a 12 year old Pug 406. Thats why they are used alot as taxis, boring and predicable. He mourns the poor chassis and he is a slow driver which says alot. Hates the power handbrake also.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

SDR wrote:
What a miserable, pointless machine this is. A 5 SPEED GEARBOX IN AN 'ECO' MODEL?!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!

Wow, that's a little dramatic considering you sound like you won't be buying one.

The 5 speed obviously does the job, from an economy point of view, as it's the 'most economical family saloon you can buy.' 800 miles on a tank is mighty impressive. A 6 speed might be more fun but it's clearly doing the job of saving fuel, 5 speed box or not. Which is surely what this car's all about?

SDR

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

Evo_ermine wrote:

Wow, that's a little dramatic considering you sound like you won't be buying one.

The 5 speed obviously does the job, from an economy point of view, as it's the 'most economical family saloon you can buy.' 800 miles on a tank is mighty impressive. A 6 speed might be more fun but it's clearly doing the job of saving fuel, 5 speed box or not. Which is surely what this car's all about?

Okay you may have a point on the drama front, sorry - but VAG have been doing this with their 'eco' models for years and at the prices they charge it is just not good enough (note I surpressed the urge to capitalise that, just for you...!).

Five forward gears are not what makes this model relatively economical - it is relatively economical despite this compromise - not because of it. A six speed box would make the car more economical by allowing the driver to keep closer to the optimum revs for maximum economy, as well as making it more enjoyable to drive. There is but one reason for the 5 speed box in VAG eco-cars - cost cutting, combined with the cynical but not incorrect belief that too many people believe in the marketing/image factory.

If the car cost 10k, fine, you expect some engineering compromise. For 20k this is, in my personal view, totally unacceptable. I have a 2.0 TDi Audi (okay thin ice on the image argument I know but honestly the lease was cheaper than the competition, VW included!) and it always does something between 54 and 60 mpg while being moderately engaging to drive, certainly fast enough, and coming with the right number of gears. For the few theoretical additional mpg on offer and a bit of a tax saving, I just can't fathom why anyone would go for this horribly compromised Passat, or indeed any other VW Bluemotion model. They are hype over substance - if you want to really save money you don't buy a brand new 20k mass market family saloon. If you just want to avoid unnecessary excess (as I do) you can buy many better, far less compromised, much more enjoyable cars for similar money.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

SDR looks at this from a private buyers view point, but that's not what this car is about - it's a company car. If I were running a fleet of cars, especially in this day, my #1 concern is cost and this car ticks all the boxes.

SDR - You do realise to achieve economy it's not about how many gears you have, but it's the spacing between the gears that counts. Please remember this is a 1.6 engine we're talking about... what would be the point of installing a heavier + more costly six-speed box if 6th gear is redundant? that's a waste of fuel no? To suggest VAG have missed such an obvious chance not to maximise the economy out of their car is, well how can I put it, bonkers. However if you still feel that way, why not send your CV to VAG engineering dept - sounds like you could be a major asset to them.

And when you explain to VAG how a 6 speed box would provide more economy in their car, you may also want to tell Ford because they deploy a 5 speed on their 1.6tdci eco Focus, and their 1.8tdci ecotec Mondeo. Contact Toyota and Honda and tell them they'd get more mpg if they use 6 speed manuals instead of auto's in their green cars. Volvo's DRIVe 1.6's - all use a 5 speed manual - (including their £25,000 V70!!!!). Kia's 1.6 green economy diesel model uses a 5 speed job. They use a 6 speed in their slightly more powerful 1.6 diesel, but that's less economical and costs £1000 more to buy, and is much less attractive to company tax due to it's higher co2 output).

I'm not sure what would be easier... listing all those green version 1.6's that have a 6 speed gearbox (can't think of any myself), or just admit you haven't a clue what your talking about.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

In real-life driving, on real roads, covering everything from urban to motorway use, and given the same intelligent economy-minded driver, the 6-speed box will give better fuel numbers than the 5 speed. I believe however that the 5 speed gearbox is nore economical than the 6 speed in the strange and highly artificial 'official' EU economy / emuissions testing cycle. As I understand it this obliges the use of certain gears at certain parts of the test, and purely because the 5 speed has fewer ratios it will have wide gear spacing, and therefore a higher 2nd and 3rd than the six speed would.

Further evidence that the official economy tests are distorting the market.

I would also like to see the back of the the law that says car manufacturers may not refer to real life fuel economy figures in their advertising and promotional material.

SDR

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

Ron, I can barely be bothered to reply since your key point is clearly to demonstrate your overactive facetiousness gland, but just FYI - check the SPACING on the gearing in the 5 speed VW box - fifth is at least as long as sixth on another car, which means gaping chasms between each gear - it does NOT mean a sixth gear would be 'spare' - a sixth gear would allow better, more closely spaced ratios with the same overall highest gearing. Any half-wit should be able to understand that. Five widely spaced ratios lead to:

1. An inability to keep as close to optimum revs for economy as a six speed box would allow (if economy is your priority at a given moment in time)

2. More lethargic performance because the engine spends less time in the optimum rev range for maximum power (if performance is your priority at a given moment in time)

3. Consequently a generally less satisfying driving experience and poorer refinement.

Oh and to suggest adding a sixth gear ratio adds weight in any remotely significant way is... what's the word... bonkers. The use of a five speed box in a car like this is poor engineering driven by cost - I could list countless smaller, cheaper, six speed cars which make no grand claims for economy yet are at least as economical as this thing in the real world - just as one example a 1.4D Toyota Yaris has a 6 speed box, does high sixties mpg and <2,000 rpm at 70mph - and the six speed box is lighter than the five speed box it replaced by the way.

If any engineer (for I am not one, and you sure as hell aren't!) would like to correct me I'm all ears. On the other hand if you just want to offer more confrontational feeble-minded sarcasm, do try to keep it to yourself... :)

EDITED TO ADD: Sub - that's an interesting point and not one I've heard before, but would explain a lot if true.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

SDR wrote:
Okay you may have a point on the drama front, sorry - but VAG have been doing this with their 'eco' models for years and at the prices they charge it is just not good enough (note I surpressed the urge to capitalise that, just for you...!).

Hey no worries, glad you see the funny side!

I guess my argument wasn't that 5 speed is going to be more economical that 6 speed (I'm not technically minded enough to work it out) but it's clear that there's no problem with a 5 speed from an economy point of view because it's the best in class and as Autocar quote, the most economical family saloon. Maybe a 6 speed would be better but it's doing ok with a 5 speed. I take your points about a 6 speed box would be more engaging to drive with this engine though. I guess it's not supposed to be an entertaining car. VW must have their reasons, cost cutting, emmisions, fuel efficiency or something. Personally I'd save 10 grand and get a 2nd hand something for around 10k that was more interesting, but I don't have a family.

Sub's point is very interesting agreed, and makes sense.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

I don't know about bland - at least it comes in a proper colour, unlike just about every other car on the market at the moment, which you can have in grey, grey or grey, and pay extra for it because it's metallic.

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

4 years 27 weeks ago

All this talk about 5 and six speed gearboxes interests me but I am going to throw a spanner in the works now.

What about electronic overdrive and why did it die. Ok this is going back a bit but my first decent car a Triumph Dolomite sprint had a 4 speed gearbox (and a 16v engine way ahead of its time 0-60 in 8 secs in 1975 !) shame about the body rot though ! It came with a switch on top of the gearleaver for overdrive that effectively gave you another gear in third AND 4th.

I will try and explain its use but dunno the mechanices of it .It was electrically activated though. So say you are in 3rd with overdrive on and want to overtake flick the switch out of overdrive and it was like dropping a cog without moving the gearlever. Similarly in 4th going down the motorway at a cruise and you wanted less revs for a steady cruise flick the switch into overdrive and watch the revs drop.So this must have saved fuel and been pretty light I assume it changed the final drive ratio or something but my point is why cant this be done now as it saved fuel and gave you grunt when you wanted it.

So come on guys enlighten me.

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Our Verdict

The VW Passat is a competent family car - but does it show any flair?

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