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