GOLF BLUEMOTION REVIEW
What’s Hot: Good fuel economy, typical Golf quality
What’s Not: Tall gearing results in sluggish performance, a bit expensive, no automatic
X-Factor: Eco-friendly but not extroverted about it. We like that.
Vehicle Style: Small hatchback
Fuel Economy (claimed): 3.8 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 5.0 l/100km
Thanks to a number of mechanical refinements and aerodynamic revisions, the super-efficient ‘stop-start’ Golf Bluemotion burns a scant 3.8 litres of diesel per 100km. Figures like that will appeal to a lot of buyers, but it’s available in manual only - there is no auto.
And while the engine is unchanged from the 77TDI model it replaces, the gearing, and on-road performance, is quite different.
Quality: Interior fit and finish is up to the usual high Golf standards, with soft-touch plastics and solid switchgear throughout.
The blue-on-black fabric upholstery is unique to the Bluemotion and feels durable, while carpeted door-bins add a dash of sophistication.
Comfort: The manually-adjusted front seats are comfortable and offer reasonable support. With a tilting and telescoping steering column, it's also easy to settle into the Bluemotion's cockpit.
The back seats are roomy enough for two adults, three with a bit of squeezing.
Equipment: The equipment list has all of the basics demanded of a modern car – air conditioning, cruise control, trip computer, an audio auxiliary input, steering wheel mounted controls and power windows – but that’s the end of the story, there is no option list for the Bluemotion.
As a result, it feels a little too basic for a car with a retail price in the high $20,000s.
Storage: The boot is roomy at 350 litres with the rear seats up; that space expands to 1305 litres with the rear seatbacks folded forward.
The boot floor is flat and wide, and the large hatch opening and low boot lip ease the loading of large suitcases or prams.
ON THE ROAD
To improve efficiency at cruising speed, VW's engineers gave the Bluemotion much taller gear ratios in its five-speed manual gearbox (no automatic is available).
The result is rather sluggish performance, and a transmission that sometimes needs to be dropped back to second gear – or sometimes first – on steep inclines.
That said, once you've adjusted to the gearing the Golf Bluemotion drives like any other small hatchback. There's plenty of torque above 2500rpm, and the car is happiest when cruising on highways.
The unavailability of an automatic may not appeal to some, but the clutch is light and easy to modulate, while the shifter is smooth and has a well-defined gate.
The start-stop feature isn't a hindrance either, with the engine re-lighting in the blink of an eye when the clutch is depressed.
Refinement: There's some tyre and wind noise at highway speed, but, on the whole, the Bluemotion's cabin is quiet and peaceful – especially when the start-stop system shuts the engine down at traffic lights.
Suspension: The Golf Bluemotion sits 10mm lower than regular Golfs thanks to its sports suspension, but features lower spring and damper rates to improve ride comfort.
The 15-inch alloys further improve ride quality, with the extra sidewall height absorbing smaller irregularities in the road and ironing out potholes, expansion gaps and manhole covers.
The electro-hydraulic power steering doesn't communicate much to the driver, but the light steering makes easy work of three-point turns and parallel parking. On the whole, the Golf Bluemotion has a pleasing balance between roadholding and comfort.
Braking: The brakes are more than adequate for daily driving, but we found they began to fade after a spirited downhill drive.
However, that may only be a concern for those who intend to tow with their Bluemotion, as the brakes worked flawlessly under all other conditions.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars
Safety features: Front, front side, full-length curtain and a driver's knee airbag are all standard on every Golf variant. ABS, EBD, brake assist, hill start assist, stability control and traction control are also standard on the Golf Bluemotion.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: TBC
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Ford Fiesta Econetic ($24,990) – It's more fuel efficient, can still seat five and is $4000 cheaper than the Golf, but the interior lacks the same quality feel as the VW and there's not as much sprawling space. (see Fiesta reviews)
MINI Cooper D ($34,800) - It's got the same claimed fuel consumption and CO2 emissions as the Golf Bluemotion, but costs almost $6000 more and has a much smaller cabin.
On the plus side, an automatic transmission is available (although you'll have to forfeit the start-stop feature for it). (see Cooper reviews)
Toyota Prius ($34,990) – An expensive option, but perhaps the closest competitor to the Golf Bluemotion in both size and fuel consumption.
The petrol-burning Prius hybrid uses slightly more fuel (3.9 l/100km) than the Golf, but compensates with exceptional powertrain smoothness and refinement.
A CVT automatic is standard-issue too, however the Prius is no match for the Golf in terms of dynamic ability. (see Prius reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Despite its fuel-saving features (start-stop, regenerative braking, recommended gear display, low rolling-resistance tyres and lower ride height), we recorded an average fuel economy figure of 5.0 l/100km during our testing.
While short of VW's claimed 3.8 l/100km, that's a good result, especially as it incorporated some enthusiastic driving (a more monastic approach is required to achieve the lower figure).
The Bluemotion is not as focused an eco-car as the Toyota Prius, but that's perhaps its most appealing characteristic.
It's beautifully built and environmentally friendly without being pretentious. For buyers who care about their carbon footprint – but don't want to make a loud statement about it – we’d recommend a very close look at the Golf Bluemotion.