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Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Review

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 2 Saloon

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion

Road test of the Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 2 Saloon

Model/Engine size: 1.6 TDI 105
Fuel: Diesel
Fuel economy combined: 64.2 mpg

Green Car Guide rating:

The Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 2 1.6 TDI manages 64.2 mpg, emits 114 g/km CO2, and has a range of almost 1000 miles on one tank, so is this the ultimate efficient saloon car?

As regular visitors to this site will no doubt be aware, BlueMotion is the low emission version of the regular Passat. So it comes with the normal dependability of a four-door Passat saloon, but with extra efficiency features.

The BlueMotion features carried over from the previous generation model include longer gear ratios in third, fourth and fifth gears, a 15mm lower ride height and a more aerodynamic profile to reduce drag. This includes less cooling system drag and more efficient underbody airflow. Interestingly, these improvements also make it slightly faster as well as more economical. It also has low-rolling resistance tyres and lighter wheels.

The main difference with the new BlueMotion 2 is that it comes with an automatic stop/start system which aims to cut emissions when halted. The engine’s idle rate is also lower.

Another key improvement is that the old, noisy pumpe duse diesel engine has been replaced by a new, more refined common-rail diesel unit.

The result is a very economical large saloon. The long gearing of the five-speed gearbox makes it particularly well suited to motorway driving. However it also means that it often isn’t very responsive to requests through the accelerator pedal, and changing-down of gears is often required to achieve reasonable forward progress.

There are increasing amounts of stop/start systems now available from different manufacturers, as it’s a relatively easy way to get the car’s official emissions figure down, but some systems, including that in the Passat, work better than others.

Overall the Passat is a relatively refined place to be, but not as refined as the latest Golf BlueMotion ; it feels like the Passat is ‘getting on a bit’, which it is, as this sixth generation version was launched in 2005.

Try as we might, despite doing lots of miles in the car, we just could not empty the fuel tank. The range is almost 1000 miles, so for people who hate having to stop to fill their car with fuel, the Passat is ideal.

To be honest, we’re not huge fans of large, front-wheel drive saloons with relatively small engines. Which is a bit unfortunate as there are increasing numbers of cars matching this description. Keep the Passat on long, straight roads and it’s fine. It’s perfectly capable on other types of roads, but the driving experience isn’t the most rewarding. Its steering isn’t particularly sharp, and a large, nose-heavy front-wheel drive car is never going to result in dynamic handling. This is especially true when combined with low rolling resistance tyres which we’ve found to have less grip, especially on wet or greasy roads.

Thankfully the Passat comes with a decent set of alloy wheels as standard which help to make it more visually attractive to buyers. Apart from sitting slightly lower, and its very thin BlueMotion badge, it looks virtually identical to a normal Passat.

However as the BlueMotion is based on the entry model in the Passat range, it means that the equipment levels – which includes air-con and ESP – are adequate, but it’s certainly not packed full of goodies, and the interior isn’t the most exciting or aesthetically pleasing place to be. The dashboard of the latest Golf is much more classy.

The Passat comes with an electronic parking brake, which is supposed to demonstrate progress and save space, but we still don’t like it!

However the car is good in the space department, even for five people. The Passat is a long car, which must help the aerodynamics as well as the rear legroom, and it has a huge 565-litre boot.

If you want more kit than the standard £19,745 BlueMotion provides, then you might consider the options fitted to our test car: DVD touchscreen navigation/radio system at £1575, multifunction leather steering wheel at £255 and metallic paint at £430. Add in mats at £85 and that brings the car’s total to £22,090.

The Passat is as long as a helicopter! No, not really.

You can also have a 2-litre Passat BlueMotion, and BlueMotion ‘Technology’ models, which feature only some of the BlueMotion technology, so these are cheaper.

The Bluemotion 2 1.6 TDI, at £19,745, costs £890 more than the £18,855 S TDI (2-litre) model (143 g/km CO2), and £345 more than the £19,400 S 1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology model, which has emissions that are just 4 g/km higher at 118 g/km CO2. So, as is often the case, there is a price premium for the efficient technology, and drivers will have to do reasonably high mileages to justify the extra cost.

Review and Summary

The Passat BlueMotion 2 gets a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10 . It’s big and efficient, with a fuel tank that never seems to run out, but it’s not the most exciting of cars. We think the latest Golf BlueMotion is one of the best and most refined ‘green’ cars around (it scores 9/10), with no drawbacks, but the Passat, which first appeared in 2005, now feels quite dated compared to the Golf.

If you want a spacious, dependable, quality four-door saloon that is efficient and well-suited to travelling up and down the UK’s motorways, the Passat BlueMotion should be near the top of your list. If you also want any form of excitement, then this may not be the car for you. This a sensible choice for private buyers, but an even more sensible choice for company fleets, where it will help to save money on company car tax as well as on diesel. But perhaps best of all, think of all the time you’ll save by never having to refuel.

The VW Passat dashboard as seen from driver's seat

Car details and fuel economy data

Fuel economy extra urban: 74.3 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 52.3 mpg
CO2 emissions: 114 g/km
Green rating: VED band C – first year £0
Weight: 1420 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 13%
Price: £19,745 (From £17,750 – £34,375)
Insurance group: 15 E
Power: 105 bhp
Max speed: 120 mph
0-62 mph: 12.4 seconds
DPF: Yes

The boot space in the Passat Bluemotion saloon