What is it?
Volkswagen's first petrol-powered full-on Bluemotion model - not to be confused with those models carrying the Bluemotion Technology badge. Using the 1.0-litre engine fitted to the Up as a base, VW has added a turbocharger and intercooler to increase power to an Ecoboost-rivalling 113bhp at 5000-5500rpm.
Furthermore, torque is up to a healthy 147Ib ft between 2000 and 3500rpm. Thanks to some cunning design and plenty of aluminium, the whole engine weighs just 89kg, which helps the model weigh under 1300kg even with a driver.
Not only does the relative lack of mass help account for the 10.5 sec 0-62mph time but it also helps economy. Claimed fuel consumption is just 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions are 99g/km.
As with other Bluemotion models, there are further changes to achieve those figures. Up front, you get an active air shutter that can close off the engine bay when cooling air isn’t required. There’s also a small rear spoiler, flat panels to cover the oily bits underneath and 15mm lower suspension. All of these modifications reduce drag, helping this car slide through the air more cleanly than regular Golfs.
What's it like?
Surprisingly tractable. You might expect a tiny three-cylinder petrol engine with a turbocharger strapped on to be a peaky little thing. The truth is very different.
At first you can’t believe how early the instrument cluster tells you to change up a gear but you soon learn to trust it. The motor will happily pull from a little over 1000rpm and never feels strained. You’d swear it was a much bigger unit than it actually is.
Not only is it content to slog at low revs, but you canalso spin it round to its limiter quite happily. Power does tail off a little after the 5500rpm peak, but there’s still plenty of usable urge along with a pleasing thrum from under the bonnet.
It’s also buttery smooth - a clever crankshaft that’s designed to be imbalanced gets around the inherent problems of an engine with an odd number of cylinders. As it’s a small petrol motor, operation of the start/stop system is barely noticeable, too.
The rest of the package is much the same as before. Being a sub-146bhp Golf, it has a twist beam rear axle as opposed to the multi-link independent set-up of more powerful variants. This and the lower, stiffer springs do erode ride quality, but you’d never call it uncomfortable.
It’s only over particularly rough sections of road that the Golf starts to suffer from noticeable vertical movements. On smoother surfaces it’s a fine long-distance companion.
As for handling, it’s surefooted and stable with steering that weights up progressively should you start to corner harder. It’s a precise system but one that isn’t brimming with feel or feedback.
Despite this, it’s possible to cross country surprisingly rapidly thanks to the torquey motor and dependable, reassuring chassis.