Frugal and reasonably refined, but feels like it's only halfway there.

What is it?

Guilt-free motoring. At least that’s what Volkswagen promises with this car, the Passat Blue Motion.

The second entry in what VW says will eventually grow into a complete Blue Motion range encompassing all of its volume-selling models – including 2008's sixth-generation Golf - its impressive fuel economy and low emissions provide a positive signal for those of us dependent on the car as a means of personal mobility at a time when the on-going debate over changing weather patterns has attempted to pigeon-hole it as the root to just about all the world’s environmental evil.

Not only that, the new Volkswagen also provides a significant reduction in running costs over comparable mid-size rivals without diminishing the fundamentally good dynamics or class-leading practicality of its standard sibling – something that can’t be said of all cars engineered for maximum environmental compatibility, I’m afraid.

What's it like?

To be offered in both saloon and estate bodystyles, the Passat Blue Motion is hardly state-of-the-art as far as fuel efficiency and emissions technology is concerned; it does without automatic stop/start, a decoupling generator and a brake regeneration system. In fact, it relies on some of the oldest driveline components in Volkswagen’s extensive part list.

But by keeping the formula simple, Volkswagen has managed to place its latest model well within reach of the motoring masses. UK pricing is yet to be announced. In Germany, however, it lists for just €500 above equivalent models and, for those not prepared to forgo luxuries, can even be ordered in posh Trendline specficiation.

Based on the existing Passat 1.9 TDI, the noisy 1.9-litre four-cylinder pumpe duse diesel engine kicks out a rather mild 105bhp at 4000rpm along with 184lb ft of torque from 1900rpm. Mated to a standard five-speed manual gearbox, it is enough to provide the specially adapted Passat with acceptable if not exactly spritely performance.

Official claims put the 0-62mph time at 12.4sec and top speed at 118mph. What it lacks in outright pace, though, the Passat Blue Motion more than makes up for in economy, with a combined average of 54.3mpg, including a motorway figure of 64.2mpg. With a 70-litre fuel tank, this correlates to a theoretical range of well over 800 miles.

This economy is achieved primarily through a lengthening of the 3rd, 4th and 5th gear ratios as well as a some subtle aerodynamic upgrades that serve to reduce drag at higher speeds. At the same time CO2 emissions have been reduced to a hybrid-challenging 136g/km – making it by far the cleanest car in its class.

Should I buy one?

You can't in the UK yet, but that's just a matter of time. But should you buy one? Maybe. The Passat Blue Motion makes you wonder what could ultimately be achieved with this economy-enhancing technology on the forthcoming new Golf.

Despite its obvious appeal, one can’t help but feel the Passat Blue Motion is a halfway stop on the way towards the real thing – a truly high-tech fuel miser incorporating all the latest developments. Yes, it’s good. But it could be a whole lot better.

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