Eco-friendly cars are often grim, hair-shirted things that you suffer as penance for your emissions, even though they pump out less CO2 than their standard brethren. But the new VW Golf Bluemotion is none of that. It doesn’t look funny (it runs alloys and a lowered ride height), it’s not made of egg cartons inside (splash out £120 on leather wheel and gearknob for the full, plush Golf effect), yet it sneaks below 100g/km for free road tax, and promises 74.3mpg.
Even better, the new 2010 Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion offers start/stop tech, regen braking, sill extensions (plus those alloys and lower suspension for better aero) for just £785 more than a similarly trimmed standard S 1.6 TDI – and it offers 11.5mpg more than that car.
Surely there’s a catch?
If there is, it isn’t immediately obvious. Really you just have to alter the way you drive to suit the green tech. And that’s not hard.
The start/stop system works seamlessly, so long as it’s not below 5deg C outside (when it switches out), so you soon get used to the engine petering out while you wait at the lights only for it to thrum into action again as you depress the clutch and go for first. You won’t catch it out and find yourself stranded at a junction unless you’re really clumsy.
Having only five ratios at your disposal might sound a bit old-tech, but they’re really long ratios, so you surf the 1.6 diesel’s torque instead of ragging it towards the redline, which is quite mollifying yet makes for smooth, and still satisfying progress.
Hmm, mollifying. Do you mean the Golf Bluemotion’s slow?
Not at all. While 0-62mph in 11.3sec means this is no hot hatch, in practice you never feel shortchanged. Torque peaks at 185lb ft, all from just 1500rpm, and so long as you’re in that band there’s ample shove.
The gearshift indicator isn’t always on at you to shift up either. Chugging away in too high a gear is no more economical than slamming into the red-line, so the Golf’s dash display will remind you to drop a cog if you’re in danger of bogging down.
Add that slug of torque to the long fifth gear and you’re in for loping motorway refinement too. This is a very relaxed cruiser.
Refined. Relaxed. Boring, then?
Get straight in this after a cross-country thrash in a Golf GTI and you’ll miss the pace, there’s no doubt. You’ll miss the reactions and sharpness too, but you’ll recognise the genes. Face-off a set of B-road bends in the Bluemotion and you’ll be rewarded with excellent poise and balance. Don’t mistake low-rolling-resistance for lack-of-grip, either.
The Golf Bluemotion will cling on and bites deep into sharp corners. You might wish there was a little more feedback from the wheelrim, but you won’t be plagued by roll or early wash-outs. Fun? It’ll certainly raise a modest smile.
How about that Golf quality of finish?
All present and correct. There’s no compromise on space, obviously, but if you want easier access to the back seats, splash out an extra £585 on the five-door.
What really sets out the Golf from the mid-sized hatch pack is refinement, and the Bluemotion scores big-time here. It’s genuinely hushed, keeping wind, road and engine noise to a minimum – the latter remarkably so. Feels and sounds quite premium in here.
The new VW Golf Bluemotion is that rare thing: an eco car you might actually want to own. Yep, you can get the similarly equipped S 1.6 TDI for a few hundred less, but you’ll miss out on green tech, free tax disc, that big mpg figure and even a set of alloy wheels.
This car isn’t plagued by excessive green badging either, so you can keep your muesli-knitting tendencies to yourself. More remarkably, the Golf Bluemotion undercuts the equivalent Ford Focus Econetic by a couple of grand, which almost makes it a bargain. The Ford’s a bit fizzier to drive but it’s just nowhere near as posh or refined as the Golf Bluemotion. A class win for a classy car.