Plenty of refinement, and frugal too
Extra weight of Plus model tells in Bluemotion model
What is it?
The Golf Plus is the latest car in Volkswagen's line-up to get the Bluemotion makeover. The mini-MPV version of VW's omnipresent hatchback has always claimed to offer better practicality in terms of space, and now it gets the latest Bluemotion tech to compete on economy.
The 1.9-litre TDI engine from the previous generation Golf Plus Bluemotion has been replaced by the new 1.6-litre TDI already found in the regular Golf range. Under the Golf Plus’s bonnet, VW claim the engine will return an impressive 65.7mpg, and keep C02 emissions to a modest 114g/km.
The usual Bluemotion magic has been weaved to induce such frugality from VW's inflated hatchback. The last three ratios on the five-speed gearbox have been revised, while low rolling resistance tyres and a Start/Stop function have also found their way onto the spec sheet.
The Golf Plus Bluemotion comes in two trim levels, S and SE. Both get a decent amount of kit, but the SE we drove adds Park Assist, cruise control and alloy wheels.
What's it like?
A Golf Bluemotion, but marginally bigger. There really isn't much to split the Golf Plus from its sleeker relative, except the greater sense of space provided by the higher roofline, and a larger boot.
Obviously that additional height (and weight) does make a slight impression on the car's handling, but you'd have to drive the cars back-to-back to notice. The Golf Plus has the same impeccable manners on the road; its ride, handling and superior refinement all encourage smooth, sedate progress.
This is good news for the Bluemotion in particular, as smooth, sedate progress is what it excels at. The common-rail 1.6TDI delivers its 104bhp in an untroubled, entirely linear way, and while overtaking quickly highlights the limits of its modest power, there is sufficient grunt to easily tackle the average commute.
We weren't able to match Volkswagen's claimed economy figures, but this might be because it's all too easy to ignore the gearshift indicator in favour of better running performance.
As we found when with the standard Bluemotion Golf, the indicator is all too keen to exploit the car's taller gears by consistently dropping the engine into an uncomfortably low point on its rev range. In the lighter hatchback this resulted in predictable flat spots, but with the Golf Plus carrying an extra 100kg or so those moments become frustrating periods of juddering inertia before a lower gear is reluctantly sort.
Such flagrant disregard for VW's engineers' advice saw our fuel consumption rise to around 48mpg during everyday driving. That figure would suggest that Volkswagen's quoted economy levels are attainable, but are probably not conducive to the cut and thrust of an urban commute.
Should I buy one?
The Golf Plus has always occupied a particularly shallow niche, and it's still difficult to fathom why anyone would actually part with the cash for one. This version is a well-made, spacious and exceptionally refined car, but then so is the regular Golf Bluemotion it's based on.
And here's the thing; in its Bluemotion guise, the current Golf delivers an hybrid-beating 74.3mpg and just 99g/km CO2, which means, of course, that it is exempt from road tax. Added to which it’s significantly cheaper than the Golf Plus we tested and much better looking.
So whatever reason you have for requiring that extra few inches above your head must be phenomenally good to justify driving away from the Volkswagen dealership in one.