Blue is the new green and Volkswagen's eco-friendly line-up continues to grow. Alongside the Polo and Passat, the Golf has now had the Bluemotion treatment – but at what price? If you want that silver sliver badge on the front, it'll cost you as much as £1290 over the price of a comparable regular TDI Golf. Order a five-door Golf S 1.9 TDI 105PS and the basic OTR price is £14,780. Sling a Bluemotion badge on that sir? That’ll be £16,070.
Ouch! That’s some premium for signing up to VW’s new environmentally conscious designer label...
To be fair to Volkswagen, the intention was that the price difference between Bluemotion and standard cars should be pegged to around £500 – or just £75 more than adding the Bluemotion’s standard-fit particulate filter to a regular diesel Golf. But demand for the petrol 1.4 TSI means orders have had to be temporarily halted and diesel prices lowered to incentivise buyers.
OK, labyrinthine pricing structures notwithstanding, is this the family motorists’ equivalent of corporate ‘pay to pollute’ eco posturing?
Not in VW’s view. Arguing that hybrids and similarly complex solutions can be a false panacea, the Bluemotion philosophy is to instead tweak existing models to bolster efficiency and lower CO2 outputs. Which, given the way fuel prices and taxation are going, should be friendly to both your wallet and your environmental conscience.
Unlucky for VW then that this temporary pricing realignment has made the Bluemotion comparably much more expensive than the standard car. Because if you’re looking to reduce your contributions to both global warming (discuss…) and oil company profits/the chancellor’s coffers (uncontestable), the Golf Bluemotion makes a good case for itself.
Click 'Next' below to read more of our VW Golf Bluemotion first drive CAR review
So what makes this VW Golf a Bluemotion?
The Bluemotion modifications are numerous and detailed but the headline features are a lowered ride height for reduced drag and longer gear ratios in third, fourth and fifth to boost cruising range, claimed by VW to be as much as 754 miles on a 55-litre tank.
There’s more too. Compared with a standard Golf 1.9 TDI, the Bluemotion cuts CO2 from 132g/km (135g/km with a particulate filter) to just 119g/km, while improving official combined fuel consumption from 56.5mpg to an impressive 62.8mpg. This isn’t pie-in-the-sky stuff either, our test car’s trip meter regularly boasting 60-plus mpg on a steady motorway commute.
And what about this aero work?
In addition to the gearing and ride height changes, VW has smoothed the Golf’s underside and blanked out unnecessary air intakes to reduce drag. There’s also a tweaked ECU to reduce the idle speed, a standard fit DPF and oxidation catalytic converter plus a recommended gear indicator on the multi-function display to encourage frugal driving.
Other than that, it’s all standard Golf stuff, the spec levels identical to comparable 1.9 TDI 105PS models in basic S or slightly better equipped Match guise. So, unlike its Polo brother, the Golf Bluemotion at least gets standard air-con and a much more discreet look, the badging being the only obvious exterior change.
Click 'Next' below to read about the VW Golf Bluemotion on the road
So what’s it like?
In keeping with the self flagellating eco spirit our test car was delivered in proper hairshirt S spec, complete with steel wheels, non-metallic paint and interior devoid of niceties such as the Match’s leather-covered control points. All of which left it feeling surprisingly, well, basic.
Nothing wrong with that of course. Until you look at the price, which with or without the temporarily inflated hike over the non-Bluemotion model is a hefty £16,140.
It’s a rough old thing as well, the Bluemotion mods doing nothing to temper the old pumpe-duse engine’s somewhat agricultural air. A variable geometry turbo ensures a healthy slug of torque but refinement – especially at tickover – lags behind the latest crop of rival, common-rail diesel engines. Meanwhile the longer gearing forces you into a languid driving style that’s good for fuel consumption but does little to raise a smile other than when looking at the mpg gauge.
The Golf Bluemotion is more expensive and less fun to drive than the standard model, although VW is upfront about what it hopes to achieve with the Bluemotion programme and realistic about the gains you can expect. The fact that the identically priced but much sweeter 1.4 TSI petrol has effectively sold out tells you a lot though.
Then there’s the fact that any Focus 1.6-litre TDCI matches the Bluemotion’s 119g/km CO2 rating and achieves 62.7mpg before you even look at the Econetic version, which does 115g/km and 65.6mpg. The 16-valve, common-rail engine is much more up to date than the Golf’s, and sweeter to drive too.
Like for like, the Focus is much more appealing, even if the price advantage isn’t quite as huge as you might expect. The Golf Bluemotion is well intentioned and achieves its objectives. But atonement for your personal contribution towards climate change doesn’t necessarily have to involve the sacrifices in driveability and refinement the VW demands...