First DriveThe Polo Beats Edition is packed with extra kit for a reasonable price, but its average driving dynamics leave us cold
First DriveWe drive VW's supermini in range-topping trim and with its pokiest 109bhp 1.0-litre engine. Does the combination make sense in the UK?
What is it?
It’s the new, super-economy version of the new VW Polo, still a year from British showrooms, but more or less complete. We drove a late prototype at VW’s launch for its other Polo models in Sardinia, Italy. If VW’s other BlueMotion models (Golf, Jetta, Caddy, Passat, Touran) are anything to go by, this will have a claim to being the world’s most frugal supermini.
The VW Polo BlueMotion is powered by an all-new 1.2 litre three-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel producing 75bhp, and driving through a five-speed manual gearbox with very widely spaced ratios and an tall (30mph/1000 rpm) fifth gear.
The engine stops when the car is stationary in traffic, then restarts when the driver selects first gear. There’s a smart alternator that does most of its battery charging the when the car is slowing, and the body is fitted with body bits to improve its aerodynamics (front splitter, flat undertray, side skirts, rear window fairing and a 10mm lower ride height).
What’s it like?
The VW Polo BlueMotion is downright amazing for the way it sips fuel; surprisingly normal for the way it drives. VW’s own combined fuel consumption figure is an extraordinary 85.6mpg, accompanied by 87gm/km of CO2.
But even more remarkable, we feel, is the fact that on a 25-mile route in Sardinia, driven at normal traffic speed with no exaggerated effort to save fuel, we were able to return an awesome 78.5mpg according to the fuel computer. Even if that were 10 per cent wrong, as some fuel computers are, it would still be an awesome performance. Senior editor Andrew Frankel did the same route, giving the BlueMotion the beans, and still returned 60mpg.
The Polo BlueMotion is virtually as refined and smooth as the ordinary models, and quite rewarding to drive, too. The steering isn’t quite as sensitive as the standard cars (given the hard-walled 15-inch low rolling resistance tyres) but the ride is fine. It takes a while to get used to the wide gear ratios, and to trust the change-up light which wills you to let the little engine lug. Once you train youirself, spectacular fuel mileage is simple. Most important, you could see yourself using one of these as practical transport every day.
Should I buy one?
Maybe, if you’re that sort of person. Just about everyone’s got an economy version of their new models now, but this is certainly one of the most effective. It’ll cost up to £900 more than the equivalent ordinary diesel model (we’d estimate £12,000) which is a pretty solid price. On the other hand, you’ll definitely be helping to cut greenhouse gases, and besides, driving for economy can be a lot of fun.