What is it?
The eco-car at its simplest and best: this is VW’s new Golf Bluemotion, which we’ve just sampled in right-hand drive, and in the UK, for the first time.
While the last Golf Bluemotion used VW’s noisy 1.9-litre pumpe-duse turbodiesel lump, this new one runs a cleaner and quieter 1.6 that produces 104bhp – one horsepower more than the last car – and 184lb ft of torque.
It’s the same engine that runs in the entry-level Golf diesel, except for the Bluemotion it’s got a modified crankshaft, cylinder head and oil pump, an intelligent alternator that runs faster while you’re braking or decelerating for a mild form of regenerative braking, and a starter-generator for automatic stop-start.
Elsewhere, the Golf Bluemotion has low-resistance tyres, a taller gearset for its five-speed manual gearbox, some very subtle aerodynamic modifications, and sports suspension that lowers it on its wheels and thereby reduces drag.
All of which combines for carbon emissions of just 99g/km – making this Golf free to tax – and a combined fuel economy claim of 74.3mpg.
What’s it like?
First and foremost, it’s a sixth-generation VW Golf, so it’s roomy, very impressively designed and built, appointed with precision and care and, concurrently, also about as desirable as economy cars get.
The current Golf’s excellent packaging and adjustable seats allow for loads of headroom in this car, as much legroom as four adults really need, and a first-class driving position. Like its rangemates, this Golf steers and handles with assured and polished precision too. It’s a little more stiffer-legged than you might expect - thank those sports springs – and there are occasions when its ride quality feels a little choppy. Thankfully, they’re rare.
Refinement is the one attribute this car offers that you don’t expect. That tall gearset doesn’t make it a great performer, but it does mean that, at 70mph, the engine’s turning over at just 2000rpm, and doing so quietly enough that you can hardly hear it.