Bland, but capable - and unrivalled in its class for economy and emissions

What is it?

The most economical family saloon you can buy: the new Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI Bluemotion.

Aerodynamic tweaks, a long-geared five-speed gearbox and automatic stop-start help the 104bhp turbodiesel to achieve 62.8mpg and just 118g/km of CO2.

What’s it like?

It’s just as bland as you would expect, but this is also one of the least compromised and most affordable of the eco-specials in this class.

The biggest sacrifice you make in driving the Bluemotion every day is its five-speed manual gearbox, which requires more work than the six-speed ’boxes usually found in this class of car, particularly for around-town driving. But otherwise the Passat copes well despite its low 104bhp and 184lb ft of torque.

Acceleration is fairly sluggish, but the torque spread offers enough flexibility in the mid-range to make up for a slow 0-60mph time of 12.4sec. The performance on offer is certainly an acceptable compromise for the excellent economy that will be top of a lot of many buyers’ priority lists.

A good-sized 70-litre tank also helps reduce time at the pump, and in varied testing we managed 800 miles to one fill.

Otherwise the Bluemotion is as capable and as soulless as all the other Passat models.

The ride can be noisy over sharper intrusions but otherwise it’s supple and cushions occupants well.

Cabin noise is perfectly acceptable even at higher motorway speeds, when the 1.6 TDI engine proves particularly able at maintaining low revs and decent overtaking ability.

Should I buy one?

Despite myriad eco-specials on offer, there is nothing that quite manages to compete with this super-frugal Passat. The Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi Econetic is faster and more engaging, but it’s less economical and almost £2000 more expensive. The Skoda Superb Greenline 1.9 TDI is cheaper to buy but falls short of the VW’s low tax band.

That reason alone will have many company car buyers opting for the Passat, but in truth this is such a comfortable and usable saloon that anyone looking for an economical family car should consider it. If you’re not concerned by how very unexciting the 1.6 TDI Bluemotion is, there’s very little not to like.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
drcc 26 February 2010

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

Read the review. It is a competent family car, not trying to be sports car. It is a compromised vehicle to achieve low company car tax figures - about £60 /month less than a Mazda 6. A 5 speed gearbox usually has one layshaft, a 6 speed usually needs 2 layshafts. This makes a 6 speed considerably larger, heavier more costly and means that it has higher frictional losses. A 5 speed box is the right choice for this vehicle which is about low weight and high efficiency. VW do a wide range of other cars for boy racers.

J400uk 13 January 2010

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

Shame the performance figures are not as good as the 1.9 TDI PD 105 or the 2.0 TDI CR 110 Passat Bluemotion, both of which had the same ammount of torque and a 5-speed box.

Will86 12 January 2010

Re: Volkswagen Passat S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

SDR wrote:
However - I have one nagging concern and I'd be interested in any thoughts. Personally I never leap in my car start up and zoom off, and even with a hot engine I wouldn't just turn the key and hit the red line - I have this old fashioned and almost certainly mistaken notion that you should let the oil properly circulate before doing anything rash. With these stop/start jobs, I'd feel like I was doing something naughty every time I moved! Is there some mechanism to circulate oil while the engine is stopped in readiness for something extreme to happen? Is modern oil so fantastic that my concern is simply irrelevant? Or in the long term is there a possibilty of increased engine wear for these stop/starters?

I would completely agree that letting oil circulate around the engine is a good idea, but I don't think it's an issue with stop start cars as the system is not designed for prolonged periods of sitting around. If you are at a set of traffic lights for a couple of minutes, the oil is not going to drain away that quickly, and if your still not comfortable with it, most cars have a button to disable the system anyway.

As for this Passat. This is a car for fleets and fulfills it's purpose perfectly. And the 5 speed gearbox, I would prefer a six speed for the closer ratios, but suspect the 5 speed unit was chosen for cost. In town I often wish for closer ratios on my 5 speed 1.6 TDCi Focus, but on the open road, the ratios are just right.