Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion
Model/Engine size: 1.6-litre TDI 105 PS 6-speed manual
Fuel economy combined: 68.9 mpg
Green-Car-Guide rating: ( 8/10 )
If you’re looking for a car that has an everlasting fuel tank then the Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion is the one for you.
With an official combined fuel economy figure of 68.9 mpg, along with its 70-litre tank, it has a theoretical range of 1061 miles. You can drive the Passat for hours and the needle on the fuel gauge just doesn’t move . This 1.6-litre diesel engine is therefore somewhat of a contrast to the powertrain of electric cars which mostly have a range of less than 100 miles.
This fuel economy equates to emissions of 109 g/km CO 2 , which is class-leading for this size of car. And the Passat is a good
size: there’s plenty of room in the front and in the rear seats, and it has a huge boot.
With its economy and very long gearing, it’s an ideal car in which to cruise up and down the UK’s motorways, making it ideal as a fleet choice. At one stage, after 40 miles at an average speed of 60 mph on the M6, the dash readout was showing 76.6 mpg. We never saw less than 50 mpg, and overall during its time with us, after lots of motorway driving, the Passat averaged 57.5 mpg. This is very impressive for a car of this size, but if driven very carefully it should be possible to return more than 60 mpg.
One side effect of the car’s long gearing is that you have to do lots of changing down of the six-speed manual box if you want any chance of accelerating past other vehicles, or even if you want to climb up hills, as it doesn’t like pulling at low revs in fifth or sixth gears.
The Passat comes with all the build quality and expected durability of a Volkswagen, and you simply can’t argue with the huge success that the Volkswagen Group is enjoying at the moment.
However, although it may be super-efficient, we struggle to be excited by the Passat’s design. It’s all very sensible-looking both inside and out, and while it has a subtle air of quality about it , it does seem that any creative flair has been designed out. Our press car the previous week was an Audi A6 Avant which showed that the Volkswagen Group can design some of the best interiors in the business; in comparison to the A6, the Passat appears very bland inside.
The satnav system also seemed quite basic in comparison; Audis and BMWs have some form of central iDrive controller for the satnav, which works really well, especially for quick zooming in or out of the map; in comparison such actions seem like hard work on the touchscreen of the Passat. Even the heater controls are hidden away at the bottom of the dash with small dark graphics.
A long saloon car with front-wheel drive and only 105 hp is always going to have a problem creating an exciting experience behind the wheel; think of the instant steering reactions of a MINI, then think of the opposite for a car that’s the length of a Passat. Volkswagen can make cars that are excellent to drive – the Scirocco is a perfect example.
Our test car was fitted with winter tyres which came in very useful during our time with the vehicle – well done Volkswagen. We believe all press cars should run on this rubber between November and March, however the car didn’t feel particularly planted to the road at certain times, especially at high speed, and these tyres may have contributed to this sensation.
The Passat has decent levels of basic equipment, and our test car had options including touchscreen navigation/DVD radio system (£2135), metallic paint (£470) and cruise control (£265).
If the wheels look small in the photographs that’s because they’re 16-inch wheels fitted with winter tyres; if you were to specify these, they cost £810 plus fitting.
The real problem for the Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion is that the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics promises the same economy and emissions but with a more engaging rear-wheel drive chassis, and the new 3 Series is difficult to fault in most areas. This may seem like an unfair comparison because at £20,300 the Passat is £8000 cheaper than the £28,080 320d, but it does show that it is possible to combine a rewarding driver’s car with efficiency, helped by fact that the BMW has a power output of 163 bhp compared to the Passat’s 105 bhp.
Of course if you feel that you want more power, the Passat is available with different engines – some with six- or seven-speed DSG gearboxes. There are two 2-litre diesel units, one with 138 bhp and one with 168 bhp. There are also three turbocharged petrol engines – the 120 bhp 1.4 TSI, a 158 bhp 1.8 TSI and a 207 bhp 2.0 TSI. None of these engine options can match the BlueMotion’s 68.9 mpg, but some are not far off.
As well as the Passat BlueMotion, many Passat models are available with ‘BlueMotion Technology’ badging; these models feature some of the eco technologies of the ‘full fat’ BlueMotion, but not all.
The Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion is certainly very efficient, and it provides a huge feel-good factor thanks to the way that the fuel tank never seems to run out. However it’s not the most exciting of cars to drive or to look at, from the outside or the inside, so although it scores very highly in terms of rational decision-making with its high economy and low emissions, it’s let down by the emotional appeal factor.
As we’re in the business of focusing on the green car angle , the Passat overall scores a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.
It certainly makes a compelling case for itself as an efficient company car in which to travel up and down the nation’s motorways without ever having to visit a fuel station, but if it’s a personal car choice t he Passat BlueMotion is likely to get you more excited about its efficiency rather than the driving experience.
Fuel economy extra urban: 78.5 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 54.3 mpg
emissions: 109 g/km
Green rating: VED band B – First year £0
Weight: 1499 Kg
Company car tax liability (2011/12): 13%
Insurance group: 16E
Power: 105 hp
Max speed: 123 mph
0-62 mph: 12.2 seconds
Read our Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion road test
Read our Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion road test
Read our Volkswagen Scirocco road test