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Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion green car review

vw-golf-bluemotion-001.jpg 12 November 2013 by
Paul Clarke

Eco Facts

Model/Engine size: Golf BlueMotion 1.6-litre TDI 110PS 3-door, 6-speed manual

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 88.3 mpg

Green-Car-Guide rating: 9/10

Introduction

The Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion has an official combined economy figure of 88.3mpg, along with emissions of just 85g/km CO2, making it the most efficient car in its class – so is this a compromised ‘eco-special’?

Summary

• Excellent official economy, very good real-life economy

• Very refined – more so than previous Golf BlueMotions

• Makes complete sense for a company vehicle, especially one that does high motorway miles

• Not the most exciting car to drive (or look at)

Background

The latest Golf is now available in BlueMotion form, this label being given to the most efficient models in the Golf range, and with a combined economy figure of 88.3mpg, this car doesn’t disappoint. Historically, such cars have had various drawbacks, is this the case with the latest BlueMotion?

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Design & Engineering

This is the seventh generation of the Golf, and evolution rather than revolution was the guiding principle for its design; making the exterior design more exciting really wasn’t the brief. It’s a similar story inside, with an interior that is predictable rather than creative. The BlueMotion version also has an interior that looks more sparse than most other Golf models; if you like lots of buttons to press to change driving settings, then this isn’t the car for you, as there isn’t one such button. There are no luxury goodies such as reversing sensors, heated seats or satnav, and there isn’t even a button to disengage traction control.

Our test car, with just two doors and a hatchback, isn’t the most practical of body styles for getting people in and out of the rear seats, but a five-door model is available.

Where the BlueMotion does have a trick up its sleeve is in the area of economy, and it has a number of technical features to improve its miles per gallon figure.

Under the bonnet Volkswagen has introduced its most efficient Golf engine ever thanks to the latest iteration of the 109bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit. As well as offering fantastic fuel consumption, there is also decent performance on offer, with 184 lb.ft. of torque between 1,500 – 3,000 rpm and peak power arriving very soon after, between 3,200 – 4,000 rpm. This engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

To give the new engine a helping hand Volkswagen has improved the already slippery Golf’s aerodynamics by 10% (Cd 0.27) by focusing on the whole of the car including the floor – which is often neglected, as well as 10mm lower ride height and a covered front grille; it has fitted super low rolling resistance tyres with higher pressures; installed even longer gear ratios; and has reduced the weight of the oily bits by 26kg and the body by 37kg. It also has stop/start, and the energy recovered from braking gets stored in the battery for later use.

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Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion Driving Experience

If you’re concerned that this Golf will be a super eco-special that has lots of drawbacks, then you needn’t be – this latest BlueMotion is very refined and genuinely has very few areas of weakness. Previous BlueMotion models could be somewhat noisy, whereas it seems that Volkswagen has got the sound-deadening sorted this time.

Another issue that previous BlueMotions had was in the area of tyres – the low rolling resistance rubber really didn’t seem to offer very much grip, especially on damp country roads. The tyres on this latest model, although still very efficient, thankfully seem to offer much improved grip.

The BlueMotion model still has long gearing, which makes for a relaxed experience on motorways (apart from the frequent gear changing required to overtake other vehicles) – but this gearing doesn’t help with quick getaways.

The main issue with the BlueMotion is that it’s not the most exciting of cars to drive, and we’re always looking for cars that offer drivers some reward, as well as saving them money at the pumps.

We’ve said it before and we’ll probably say it again – we’re not fans of electronic handbrakes, especially ones that don’t release automatically – as appears in the Golf.

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Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion Economy and Emissions

You can’t get a more economical car in this class than the Golf BlueMotion. This is a family hatchback with an economy figure of 88.3mpg according to the European test. Even more amazing is the extra urban figure of 94.2mpg. Did the Golf come any closer to its official figure than the majority of cars that we test? No, but as it’s starting at a higher figure, even with the typical 20-25% lower real-life mpg figure, it is still a very economical car in everyday driving. After a week of mixed driving we averaged 63.3mpg – over 20mpg less than the official 88.3mpg figure, but still very good for a family hatchback with such a premium feel. On the motorway, if you drive at 70mph then you can expect to achieve around 70mpg, which is excellent, and combined with the fact that the car is very refined at such speeds, this shows that businesses should give serious consideration to the Golf BlueMotion as a company car.

Despite the good official and real-life economy, the fuel gauge in the car seems to drop relatively quickly, but this is more a result of a fuel gauge with lots of markings, and a relatively small fuel tank.

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Price, Equipment and Model Range

The base price for the BlueMotion is £20,335. Our test car had the options of leather multifunction steering wheel (£400), alarm with interior protection (£230), carpet mats (£80) and metallic paint (£525) – taking the total price to £21,570. Overall the BlueMotion feels somewhat devoid of equipment.

The Golf model range starts at £16,495 for the 1.2 TSI 85 S 3-door, rising to £26,500 for the 2.0 GTi 5-door. In between these two extremes there’s a variety of petrol and diesel engines and trim levels.

Conclusion

This latest Golf BlueMotion has the potential to be very economical and offer very low running costs. It is also very refined and really has very few drawbacks. It’s ideal as a company car that does many motorway miles, when the extra purchase price will be more than offset by fuel savings, as well as low company car tax rates. It comes very close to scoring a 10 out of 10, but for that top score we’re always looking for a car that also offers some reward for the driver. The Golf BlueMotion is highly competent in virtually all areas but it can’t be described as the most exciting of cars to drive, or to look at, so it just falls short, being awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car Facts and Figures

Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.6-litre TDI 110 PS 3-door 6-speed manual

Fuel economy extra urban: 94.2 mpg

Fuel economy urban: 74.3 mpg

Test economy: 63.3 mpg

CO2 emissions: 85 g/km

Green rating: VED band A – £0 a year

Weight: 1280Kg

Company car tax liability (2012/13): 13%

Price: £20,335

Insurance group: 15E

Power: 110 PS

Max speed: 124 mph

0-62mph: 10.5 seconds

Paul Clarke

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