Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.6-litre TDI 105 PS 3dr
Model/Engine size: 1.6-litre
Fuel economy combined: 74.3 mpg
Green-Car-Guide rating: 9/10
The latest Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion is an incredibly refined family hatchback that emits an amazingly low 99g/km CO2 – so what’s the catch?
Firstly, let’s just explain one thing – there’s actually a Golf BlueMotion and a Golf BlueMotion Technology. Best to think of the difference between the two as the BlueMotion being the real thing, and the BlueMotion Technology just having some of its technology.
The ‘real’ Golf BlueMotion emits just 99g/km CO2 and the official combined economy figure is 74.3mpg (this matches the emissions of the original, and smaller, Polo BlueMotion that was launched in the UK in September 2007). In comparison, the BlueMotion Technology emits 107 g/km CO2 and can manage a combined economy figure of 68.9 mpg.
Just out of interest, the standard 1.6-litre 105 PS diesel Golf returns 62.8 mpg (or 60.1 mpg with the seven-speed DSG gearbox) and emits 119 g/km of CO2 (123 g/km with the DSG).
The Golf BlueMotion Technology, based on the SE trim level, is fitted with a 1.6-litre common rail TDI engine developing 105 PS and includes features such as a Start/Stop system, which cuts the engine when the clutch is depressed at a halt, and a regenerative braking system, which charges the battery under deceleration and braking to reduce the workload of the engine and cut fuel consumption. Low rolling resistance tyres are also fitted to reduce the drag of the vehicle. A dashboard indicator shows the recommended time to change gear for maximum economy.
The Golf BlueMotion is based on the entry-level S model and uses the same modified 1.6-litre 105 PS common rail diesel engine as the BlueMotion Technology. However the BlueMotion has a number of additional ‘efficiency’ features.
The first of these is a revised engine management system and a reduced idle speed. These modifications increase the engine’s efficiency to allow greater performance while also using less fuel. There are also changes to the gearing, with longer ratios in third, fourth and fifth to decrease engine speed.
Aerodynamic improvements are extensive, with various ‘body kit’ items, such as an enlarged rear roof spoiler, which aid the aerodynamics, and blanked-off sections of the front grille help reduce cooling system drag. There are also modifications to the underside of the vehicle to smooth the airflow, and the ride height has been lowered by 15 mm to further reduce drag.
The spare wheel has also been ditched to save weight; it’s replaced by a tyre repair kit.
Both cars are fitted with an oxidation catalyst and a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) as standard to reduce oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter to almost zero.
A standard auto hold system is also fitted, which applies the parking brake automatically whenever the vehicle is brought to rest on the footbrake.
One big difference compared to some of Volkswagen’s very first BlueMotion models is that the sometimes tractor-like noise levels have disappeared. Keeping the sound proofing materials on the latest version is a very welcome feature.
But one key change that also contributes to the improved noise and refinement levels is that the old VW 1.9-litre pumpe-duse diesel has been replaced by a new 1.6-litre TDI engine with common rail technology. This is another very welcome change.
This is mated to a five rather than a six-speed gearbox. The gear change is slick and solid, but one result of the gearing on this car is that although the engine has good levels of torque, there isn’t much get up and go at low revs, so you’ll need to change down frequently in you want to make reasonable progress.
Probably the most significant thing about this latest-generation Golf is the incredible levels of refinement. This applies to the interior, the dashboard, the controls, and even the feel of the steering wheel. It then extends to the driving experience – from the well-weighted steering, through the smooth engine, to the suspension that combines composed handling with comfort. In other words, every aspect feels solid, high quality and enjoyable. This really does feel like a premium-class car, which is a real achievement for a 99g/km CO2 £18,000 family hatchback.
The Golf really is the complete package, from the moment you get in, when it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position, all the way through to living with the car on motorways, when it’s quiet and relaxed.
Appearance-wise, the latest generation Golf looks very familiar overall to previous incarnations, however there are subtle changes which are shared with other latest Volkswagen models such as the Scirocco and which result in a more modern design.
We think it actually looks pretty good for a 99g/km car, and it even comes with a set of decent-looking alloy wheels, although it does look a little ‘heavy’ with all the body kit on lowered suspension and relatively small wheels. There are other Golf models that look better, but it’s a valiant attempt.
The Golf’s fuel consumption averaged over 50mpg in its time with us during mixed driving, and 60mpg+ on A and B roads was easily achievable. Of course it’s exempt from road tax, and it will make company car drivers very happy from a company car tax perspective.
In terms of price, it’s not the cheapest in the small family hatchback class, but it’s also not the most expensive. What it does represent is an excellent product for your money, and the residual values will be good. The BlueMotion 105 PS 3 door costs £18,100 compared to the S TDI 3 door at £17,315 (the SE TDI 3 door BlueMotion Technology costs £18,610), so all prospective buyers should decide if the BlueMotion investment will be worthwhile for them. The BlueMotion 105 PS 5 door costs £18,685, so £585 for the two extra doors.
It doesn’t come with lots of latest hi-tech interior equipment, but it does come with lots of standard safety kit. And of course Golfs are perceived as being amongst the most reliable and dependable cars.
Although our test car was a three-door, the BlueMotion is also available as a five-door, which would be much more practical for daily tasks such as inserting young children into rear child seats.
If you’re still not convinced by the BlueMotion model, then you should certainly put some version of the Golf range at the top of your small family hatchback list. Fuel economy of other 1.6 diesel models is still good, and you may prefer their appearance and specifications.
Of course if you want something smaller or larger, there’s always the Polo and Passat BlueMotion models, which emit 87 and 114 g/km of CO2.
BlueMotion Technology variants are currently available on the Golf Plus, Passat, Passat Estate, Touran, Sharan and Touareg.
Here’s the thing: there is no catch to this car. This 99g/km CO2 model has no serious drawbacks. It’s incredibly refined to drive, yet is also amazingly economical. It has no sacrifices in driveability. It shoots straight to the top of the green car class and gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10 .
Why doesn’t it get 10 out of 10? Well, although it’s great to drive, ultimately it could be a bit more fun. The exterior looks good, but it could look a bit more exciting. Interior space is good, but isn’t best in class for a family hatchback, and the interior could have a bit more design flair.
You might expect a six-speed rather than the five-speed ‘box. It doesn’t have satnav, or bluetooth phone connection. It (thankfully) doesn’t come with an electronic handbrake. The Golf doesn’t have any of these things; it is instead a very, very good basic car, which we would always prefer to having lots of latest gadgets on a car that basically isn’t very good.
The latest Golf BlueMotion is cheaper than a Ford Focus ECOnetic and it’s much more of a refined, class act to drive. It’s cheaper than a Prius hybrid , it’s also better to drive, and in real-world economy, especially including long runs, it’s likely to beat the Prius. The Golf BlueMotion is a 99g/km CO2 car that you can drive without being aware that you’re driving a 99g/km CO2 car, which is exactly what you want.
Fuel economy extra urban: 83.1 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 60.1 mpg
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
Green rating: VED band A – £0
Weight: 1239 Kg
Company car tax liability (2009/10): 13%
Price: £18,100 (From £14,850 to £31,980)
Insurance group: 18E
Power: 105 bhp
Max speed: 118 mph
0-62 mph: 11.3 seconds
Keywords: Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, 99g/km CO2, 74.3mpg, 1.6-litre 105 PS common rail diesel engine.