2013 Golf BlueMotion First Drive Review

There’s little in the way of compromise. The Golf BlueMotion may return nearly 80mpg in the real world but it’s still an understated but surprisingly sophisticated five-door hatchback, quality is stratospheric, as is practicality.

That Volkswagen refuses to fit its wonderful double-clutch gearbox in the name of weight saving (it would result in a penalty of just 30kg) should tell you everything. The new Golf BlueMotion is just about as efficient as an everyday car can be without resorting to drivetrain electrification or expensive lightweight materials. Volkswagen has been especially diligent with this great new car deal.

Small but significant modifications to the standard Golf VII are rife, including improved aerodynamics, a reworked 1.6-litre diesel engine, low rolling resistance tyres and even low viscosity gearbox oil. The result is carbon dioxide emissions of 85g/km and a claimed fuel economy of 88.3mpg, both of which belie the Golf’s sheer size. The Golf isn’t (and hasn’t been) a small car for a very long time, comfortably accommodating adults in the back seats.

Choice of engine is clearly pivotal in a car such as the Golf BlueMotion, and Volkswagen could have chosen to use the excellent 1.4-litre petrol from the standard car. It features cylinder deactivation – with power coming from just two cylinders – and returns decent fuel economy.

Not decent enough, it turns out, and even though we managed a stratospheric 77mpg on our test route the 1.6-litre diesel never felt wanting for shove. 108bhp and 184lb ft of torque evidence the virtues of diesel over petrol and driving at low engine speeds, without the need for constant down-shifting, suits the character of the latest BlueMotion model well.

The extra power (5bhp) over the previous Golf BlueMotion is to counter the new car’s longer gear ratios, with a sixth gear for efficient motorway cruising – something the BlueMotion does with aplomb.

What you won’t necessarily see or hear is the BlueMotion’s exhaust gas recirculation and a shorter engine warm up period, reducing the length of time that the engine is at its most inefficient.

Aside from class-leading efficiency, there’s an argument for the BlueMotion as the most attractive current generation Golf, as it lacks the GTI’s bling jewelry and transcends the normal Golf’s slightly anonymous styling. Aerodynamic aids such as the closed front grille and C-pillar spoiler give the BlueMotion a focused aesthetic and a ride height lowered by 15mm to reduce drag endows it with stance and athleticism. Overall, however, the BlueMotion is given away only by some discreet badging, although the red piping found on the GTI is unsurprisingly blue.

Unfortunately, UK cars won’t be available with either the 16-inch alloy wheels or Volkswagen’s new LED headlights. If you want those, Volkswagen say, buy the standard 1.6-litre Golf TDI with BlueMotion Technology. Then you can have all the trimmings you want and still get 99g/km CO2 emissions and 74.3mpg.

What the BlueMotion proves is that although the greatest advances in automotive efficiency will surely come by way of alternative drivetrain technology, there’s still life in the old combustion engine yet.

As a further illustration, consider this. The current Golf GTD offers near-GTI levels of power, a sporting ride and is a proper performance diesel, accelerating from 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and topping out at 143mph. Yet it’s still cleaner than the original 2007 Golf BlueMotion (not exactly a gas-guzzler itself), emitting just 109g/km CO2.

The new Golf BlueMotion is the final extrapolation of this perfectionist philosophy – and right now it’s unbeatable.

AutoeBid new car deals choice: The only one, starting at £20,335, but buyers should also consider the 1.6 TDI with BlueMotion Technology.

Comfort 5 stars

Style 5 stars

Handling 4 stars

Depreciation 4 stars

Economy 5 stars


UK cars won’t come with the larger 16-inch wheels or Volkswagen’s striking new LED headlights. A buy-in price of £20,335 is hardly aggressive, and Volkswagen’s brilliantly smooth DSG transmission isn’t available due to its excessive weight.

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