First DriveCheapest diesel has all of the polish of its rangemates. A car of real class, although not such a rewarding one to drive.
First DriveThe all-new VW Passat has been given added polish to tempt buyers away from upmarket rivals, but the price is a bit more premium, too
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.