If 4Motion means four-wheel drive, what’s this Bluemotion all about?
Nothing to do with four-wheel drive - or going fast. It’s Volkswagen’s ecological brand applied to the most efficient and economical models in each range, so probably should have been called Greenmotion. A Passat Bluemotion was unveiled at the Geneva show and other versions will follow.
So how green, sorry, blue is this Polo?
According to Volkswagen, it will manage 72mpg, 9 mpg more than the next greenest Polo. Which means that even though the tank only holds a modest 45 litres of fuel, you could realistically expect to cover 700 miles between fills. And the 102g/km of CO2 it produces makes it even less harmful to the environment than the hybrid Toyota Prius. To ram the point home, VW flooded Geneva with 102 Polo Bluemotions during the recent motor show.
What’s the secret?
No secret, just the same recipe Volkswagen used on the old 3.0-litre Lupo a few years back. That’s 3.0 litres per 100km in case you’d forgotten, not 3.0 litres of swept volume. So the Bluemotion uses the Polo’s existing 1.4-litre TDI triple, but adds a variable geometry blower to improve torque just above idle. The 3.0-litre Lupo used lightweight materials to cut weight but there’s nothing like that going on here, although the base model comes without air-conditioning and the kerbweight is a commendable 1084kg. The five-speed manual box features taller than usual gearing and the lightweight alloy wheels wear special low rolling resistance rubber that look uncannily like the Goodyear Polyglas crossplies fitted to late 60’s American muscle cars. Let’s hope they’re a bit grippier…
Presumably that flush grille plays some sort of part?
Yes - the grille, front bumper and rear lip spoiler are all the result of wind-tunnel work although the drag co-efficient can’t be that much different. Inside the Bluemotion receives unique seat trims and blue interior lighting and a multifunction computer to help you keep tabs on your fuel consumption.
Does it drive like a regular planet-killing Polo?
It’s certainly noisy, a mixture of wind and engine roar although no sound proofing has been removed. And the super tall gearing takes some getting used to, particularly as the engine doesn’t really start working until past 2000rpm. So you frequently find yourself needing a lower gear than you’d anticipated when entering roundabouts and rolling out of junctions. But once you work out how to get the most out of the engine’s 144lb ft, and the l-o-n-g gears by concentrating on the 2-3000rpm sweet spot, it starts to make sense. More sense than the 12.8sec 0-62mph time suggests, in fact. And thankfully those eco-warrior tyres aren’t as bad as they look and don’t just wash out into understeer at the first sniff of a corner. They actually contribute to the Polo’s supple ride.
And what about this Passat Bluemotion you said was unveiled at Geneva?
Fast it isn’t, which is no surprise given it’s powered by a 105bhp TDI engine. But it does do 55.4mpg and produces 137g/km of CO2. The best the next greenest Passat can do is 50.4mpg and 148g/km, but that’s what you’re stuck with for now because the Bluemotion version doesn’t arrive here until Christmas.
At an estimated £11,500 when it arrives here in July (within £250 of an equivalent ordinary Polo TDI), the Polo Bluemotion is bound to find fans. But unless you’re hell-bent on minimising your carbon footprint, the sums don’t really add up. The difference in fuel bills between the 72mpg Polo Bluemotion and an ordinary 63mpg Polo TDI would be just £80 per year for the average driver, although company car users would save a few pounds on tax. It’s a good effort but it’s no miracle worker.