FIRST DRIVE

BlueMo­tion is a VWdiesel that beats the Prius for econ­omy. The catch? You have to change gears for your­self

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Inside - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

Do you care enough about the planet to change gears your­self? VW’s Golf BlueMo­tion is an ul­tra-frugal diesel man­ual

FOR­MER Aussie rally champ Ed Or­dyn­ski drove 1000km us­ing 3.3 litres/100km in Golf’s lat­est slow-sip­ping diesel.

More im­pres­sive is the fact the rally ace-turned-econ­o­my­driv­ing cham­pion av­er­aged 3.5 litres/100km in an ur­ban loop of nearly 100km around the streets of Ade­laide.

A loop around sim­i­lar roads showed Or­dyn­ski’s claims aren’t im­pos­si­ble as Cars­guide achieved 3.9 with­out driv­ing like great aunty Sue. Fang­ing it like a reg­u­lar Golf— it runs on the same chas­sis, so you can— pushed fuel use into the high sixes, which is much bet­ter than re­spectable given the de­mands put on the car dur­ing an up­hill haul.

The down­side is the Golf BlueMo­tion is only be­ing sold here with a five-speed man­ual rather than the six-or sev­en­speed DSG semi-au­to­mated trans­mis­sions, which make up the vast ma­jor­ity of Golf sales. That will make it hard to jus­tify for fleet buy­ers or those who want brag­ging rights in the green carpark but can’t deal with a clutch.

VWjus­ti­fies the move on the ba­sis that en­gi­neers iden­ti­fied the tall gear ra­tios fit­ted to the light­weight gear­box as the op­ti­mal ap­proach in their search for fuel ef­fi­ciency.

TECH­NOL­OGY The BlueMo­tion has the same 1.6-litre en­gine with the same out­put at 77kW and 250Nm as the 77TDI but its fuel use and green­house emis­sions are a gen­er­a­tion ahead. Com­pare the of­fi­cial com­bined rate of 3.8 litres/100km and 99g/km of CO with 5.1 litres/100km and 133g/km for the 77TDI.

Part of that is down to a re­vised en­gine man­age­ment sys­tem with a lower idle speed and stop-start func­tion. A lot is due to the aero­dy­namic im­prove­ments— re­vised un­der-tray and front and rear spoil­ers, side skirts and re­tuned sus­pen­sion that brings the car 15mm closer to the bi­tu­men (and speed bumps) than a reg­u­lar Golf. Low rollingre­sis­tance tyres run­ning on 15-inch al­loys com­plete the fuel sav­ings.

VALUE How many will buy a $28,990 car with­out an auto? The Golf has a wait­ing list be­cause of its prac­ti­cal­ity – it’s a good drive, has a big boot and a long­stand­ing rep­u­ta­tion.

The BlueMo­tion’s $28,990 is $1000 cheaper than the com­pa­ra­bly equipped 77TDI it re­places and $4000 more than the 1.4-litre petrol-pow­ered 90TSI.

DE­SIGN If you don’t spot the BlueMo­tion badges front and rear, the model is dis­tin­guished by dark­ened rear tail-lights, the al­loys, chrome strips along the grille slats and the roof spoiler from the GTI.

In­side is much eas­ier – blue cloth in­serts in the seats sig­nify VW’s flag­ship eco model, along with chrome trim around the head­light, mir­ror ad­just­ment and power win­dow switches. Other than that, it’s a Golf: clean, un­clut­tered lines, easyto-op­er­ate in­te­rior and plenty of space.

SAFETY Seven airbags help in­flate the Golf’s ANCAP rat­ing to five stars and it backs that up by feel­ing solidly put-to­gether. ANCAP noted the three-point seat belt in the cen­tre rear seat and the ad­justable front belts as con­tribut­ing to oc­cu­pant safety. The BlueMo­tion shares the range’s soft­ware suite, with ABS with brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion, ESC and trac­tion con­trol.

DRIV­ING The BlueMo­tion may be partly a mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise butVW has made sure it still runs well on the road. It’s barely tick­ing over at 100km/h in fifth gear and the gear-change ad­viser lets you know which gear you should be in to max­imise econ­omy. It rec­om­mended fourth around town and Or­dyn­ski con­curred: The ra­tios have been mapped to the torque curve and in this case that’s 1500-2500rpm, so fourth’s about where you should be in flow­ing city traf­fic.’’

That helps ex­plain why the BlueMo­tion will take off up­hill in sec­ond gear with­out any ac­tion on the ac­cel­er­a­tor. It’s no rocket— the 0-100km/h time is 11.3 sec­onds— and you do need to shift down a cou­ple of cogs when over­tak­ing or climb­ing hills.

The stop-start sys­tem is one of the bet­ter ex­am­ples. It shuts the en­gine down when the car is sta­tion­ary and in neu­tral, then reignites it when the clutch is de­pressed as the driver pre­pares to take off. The en­gine ac­ti­vates within the first 20mm of travel in the clutch, mean­ing it’s on by the time the pedal is fully de­pressed.

Re­gen­er­a­tive brakes are quick to bite but they’re not as

grabby’’ as some sim­i­lar sys­tems and it takes only a few kilo­me­tres to ad­just.

In­side is the usual classy­but-spartan Golf look and room for four adults, or three small teens in the back.

That’s handy: The clever Golf uses hardly any diesel, costs $28,990 — but don’t look for an auto

Al­loyed joy: The BlueMo­tion Golf comes with low rollingre­sis­tance tyres

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