What is it?
This is the new Golf BlueMotion, the frugality flag-waver of Volkswagen's seventh generation hatchback line-up. It’s powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine producing 108bhp and 184lb ft of torque, but the headline figures with which we really need to concern ourselves are a claimed combined economy figure of 88.3mpg and commensurate CO2 emissions of just 85g/km – a significant 15 per cent improvement on the previous Golf BlueMotion based on the sixth-generation hatch.
The Golf BlueMotion hits its giddy new heights of efficiency with what are now a standard-issue list of engineering tweaks, nips and tucks over and above the standard Golf’s fuel-saving stop-start and battery regeneration systems.
It’s aerodynamically more efficient, thanks to a lower overall ride height (down 15mm over the regular Golf) which reduces the car’s frontal area. The BlueMotion also wears a drag-reducing roof spoiler, a revised grille and different underbody panels to improve airflow over and under the car, and it has ‘optimsed’ engine and brake cooling systems.
The BlueMotion also wears what VW describes as 'super'-low rolling resistance tyres, and features longer gear ratios in a six-speed manual gearbox which is now lubricated by thinner-viscosity to reduce drag on the gears
Other need-to-know figures are that the Golf BlueMotion comes in both three and five-door hatchback forms, costing £20,335 and £20,990 respectively. We drove the three-door.
What's it like?
Like a Golf, only more economical. In other words, the Golf BlueMotion is a refined, handsome, easy-to-drive hatchback with a distinct feeling of near-premium solidity and a finely honed blend of form and practical function.
There are only two things you really want to know about the Golf BlueMotion, and that’s whether or not it can achieve anything close to its exceptional claimed combined fuel economy figure in everyday driving, and whether the engineering compromises imposed on the car to achieve those figures detract from the driving and ownership experience.
Well, in the first instance, we were restricted to a relatively short test route (about 40 miles or so of suburban and rural Dutch roads) without the opportunity to carry out brim-to-brim economy calculations of our own, so a definitive answer to the question will have to wait until we have or hands on the car for longer back in the UK.
However, on that short route, with sensible but not over-the-top restraint, the Golf’s trip computer recorded an eyebrow-raising 76mpg. If that figure is even within 10-15 per cent of accurate (which, in our experience, VW Group trip computers tend to be) it’s impressive.
As far as the compromises go, there are few. The engine is extremely smooth and refined, even down to the 1000rpm at which the on-board display’s gearchange prompter had as selecting a lower gear when decelerating. At such low revs some small amount of vibration can be felt through the steering wheel but the engine still pulls willingly and without hesitation; anywhere above that point it’s free of vibration.