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VW's eco-friendly Golf is a comfortable and frugal, if noisy option

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf? The seventh generation of Europe's best selling car has been facelifted to keep its nose ahead of its rivals

14 March 2008

What is it?

The Golf is the fourth car in the VW range to be given the efficiency-orientated BlueMotion treatment. Unlike the Polo it doesn’t feel like a stripped-out econo-box: the revisions have been added to the existing, well-equipped 1.9 TDI S and Match specs.

The Bluemotion costs £520 more than the standard 1.9 TDI, but it saves £85 in road tax and will be exempt from the London Congestion Charge, sneaking under the 120g/km barrier with CO2 emissions of just 119g/km.

Revisions include harder compound tyres, taller gearing, lower suspension and revised engine management. The front grille aperture has also been partially blanked to reduce drag. Aerodynamic efficiency and rolling resistance are both improved, contributing to the impressive claimed fuel economy.

What’s it like?

Under gentle use, we saw an average of 60mpg – making VW’s combined figure of 62.8 appear achievable. A gearshift indicator advises you when to change gear for the best fuel economy, but its small size and obscure location at the bottom of the trip computer display means its advice will often go unheeded.

The 1.9 TDI engine is loud by modern standards, especially at idle and under full throttle. Poor low-down responses mean the motor also labours at 30mph in fourth gear, meaning that third is the (counter-instinctive) best option for driving in town. On motorways the Bluemotion is a relaxed cruiser, with 70mph requiring just 1900rpm in fifth. The tall gearing means that even shallow motorway gradients often require a downshift to fourth.

Lowered sports suspension helps the aerodynamics – the Bluemotion sits 15mm lower than the standard car – and it also allows it to remain impressively level in corners. In conjunction with the high profile tyres, this makes for a firm but generally comfortable ride that only falls on the most badly pitted tarmac. Cornering responses are decent, although directional accuracy is slightly compromised by the taller tyre walls.

Should I buy one?

Based on VW’s economy figures and factoring in the road tax saving it would take just under three years for a BlueMotion driver to recoup the £520 extra cost over the standard 1.9 TDI, which seems to offer good value – especially as road and fuel tax are likely to continue to rise.

But the Bluemotion’s loud engine means that green-minded buyers might well be tempted to wait to try Ford’s similarly frugal Focus ECOnetic before deciding whether to opt for the VW.

David Campbell

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Comments
3

19 March 2008

Why does VW persist with this outdated tractor engine? It may be fuel efficient, but if it sounds like a bag of spanners and even goes like a tractor, why bother. The Ford/PSA 1.6 16v diesel engine is just as efficient and alot nicer to drive and has been around for years.

20 March 2008

I think these BlueMotion cars are really interesting for one reason. They show how little manufacturers have to do - new tyres, different gear ratios, bit of body kit - to make cars that are really quite a lot cleaner than their mainstream models. None of this should actually cost any more or require any more complication to manufacture either and there must be almost no development work involved. The question is why more manufacturers don't just do a lot more of this type of thing? Like, right now?

20 March 2008

You will be pleased to know that VW have a 1.6TDI common rail in development and are now replacing the 2.0 TDI PD with a common rail unit.

It won't be long, but I agree with you the 1.9 TDI is out of date in NVH requirements, despite having good economy and a suprising turn of pace.

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