The new VW Golf Bluemotion represents several milestones for Volkswagen. Not only did a Bluemotion model recently became the 30-millionth Golf ever produced, but it’s also the most fuel-efficient, eco-friendly Golf ever.
VW actually claims it's the most frugal non-hybrid car in the world, but away from the test laboratory does this economy biased Bluemotion model compromise the latest Mk7 Golf in the real world? Read on for the full CAR verdict.
Just how eco-friendly is the new VW Golf Bluemotion?
The latest model has some spectacular figures: 88.3mpg on the combined fuel economy cycle, and CO2 emissions of 85g/km – 15% better than the old version. That means this road-tax exempt hatchback could theoretically run for 970 miles between fills of its 50-litre tank of diesel.
VW reckons that over an average year (an estimated 10,000 miles) a Bluemotion owner would only have to visit a fuel station ten times. Not something for the Nectar point hoarders among you, then... If you need more load capacity, a Bluemotion estate with up to 1620 litres of cargo space, will go on sale in the UK this autumn.
>> Click here to read CAR's VW Golf vs Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-class giant test
Is there much radical fuel-saving tech under the skin?
No, and there's not even any carryover from the VW XL1 hybrid, according to Golf product chief Stefan Jung. 'The XL1 and Golf Bluemotion are separate projects with separate approaches,' Jung told CAR, keen to promote that the Golf scores big economy numbers with no electric motors or carbonfibre in sight. Likewise, the engine’s short warm-up phase and reduced internal friction aren’t related to the XL1’s on-board tech.
Instead, you get low-rolling resistance tyres, better aerodynamics thanks to a blanked-off front grille, underfloor panels and a wraparound rear spoiler, and a regular 1.6-litre TDI engine. The four-cylinder diesel hasn't been detuned: it actually produces 5bhp more than the regular 1.6 TDI model, at 109bhp. Why? To offset the effect of longer gear ratios in the only transmission available, a six-speed manual. VW admits there's a market for a DSG automatic, but won't build it on account of the dual-clutch gearbox's 30kg weight penalty.
So buying a Golf Bluemotion saves me a fortune then!
In running costs, yes, but be aware that the Bluemotion starts at £1215 more than a regular 1.6 TDI Golf, which itself will achieve a claimed 74.3mpg, and is available with a DSG gearbox. It's also worth noting UK Bluemotions are based on lowly 'S' spec models, and you can't spec bigger than 16in alloys (15s are standard) or the smart LED headlights pictured in our European-market test car.
Does this eco-special make the driver feel Blue when in motion?
Most of the standard Mk7 Golf impressions remain, so this is a refined, mature car to drive. But the engine is noticeably grumblier at low revs, and the over-eager gearshift indicator requests changes that make the motor labour in the taller gears. The car never feels like it'll stall, only that it's chuntering somewhat while spinning the longer ratios. The gearshift itself is the same light throw we're familiar with, but one that's not quite as satisfying as the Golf's Audi A3 cousin, which shares its clever MQB platform (the lightweight chassis is 37kg than the old Bluemotion’s, and the drivetrain has shed a further 26kg).
Despite a 15mm ride height drop to cut drag, the Golf Bluemotion's ride doesn't suffer – it's still compliant enough to make a Mercedes A-class driver weep into their chiropractor's invoice. (Mind you, the car’s launch took place in Holland, blessed with roads so smooth they could’ve been hand surfaced with a lathe.) The steering does feel lighter however: VW confirms the Bluemotion shares all steering components with a standard Golf, so the difference must be down to low-resistance tyres.
Plus, Bluemotions do without VW's Dynamic Chassis Control interface, which lets the driver chose from Comfort, Normal, Sport, Eco, and Individual modes. Basically, you're in Eco all the time instead, and save for some sixth-gear sluggishness and the sacrificing of some low-rev refinement, that's alright by us.
How economical is the Bluemotion in real life?
During a test drive period mixing town crawling with medium- and higher-speed main roads, our test car averaged an indicated 64.2mpg. That's a highly impressive figure for a car driven at a normal rather than hypermiling pace, and a long motorway run might make 80mpg a possibility, but we think you’ll struggle to see the official 88.3mpg outside of an EU test lab.
If you're a motorway mile-muncher, the Golf Bluemotion offers obvious and easy-to-reap economy benefits versus the already highly competent standard car, with only small margin of refinement and performance compromises. It's also an undeniably impressive demonstration of just how much can be done with the humble old internal combustion engine when it's invested in, rather than chasing off down the exotic material, hybrid propulsion alleys.
If you're a private buyer though, a regular Golf with 'Bluemotion Technology' rather than the flagship eco model will do the trick in almost all cases. The clever 1.4TSI model even makes a decent case for petrol over diesel, thanks to decent punch and cylinder deactivation under light loads. Either way, the Golf has you covered, for the next 30 million examples and beyond.