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VW Polo BlueMotion
VW Polo
BlueMotion Offers Amazing Economy, At A Price

Car Manufacturers Anxious To Demonstrate Climate Commitment
But If The Premium To Pay Is Huge, Don’t Expect Many Takers

VW Polo BlueMotion
VW Polo BlueMotion
VW Polo BlueMotion
VW Polo BlueMotion

As politicians lecture us about global warming and how the car is killing the climate, it can’t be long before these mobility haters either price us off the road completely, or force us into computerised motorised tortoises that barely reach running pace, will only overtake with Health and Safety’s permission, and of course emit barely measurable amounts of killer carbon dioxide (CO2).

It can’t be long before neo-Labour decides to reinstate the red-flag law. Gordon Brown would love the idea, because our would-be Fuehrer could justify employing millions of the unemployable vassals created by his dumbed-down education system. Surely even the most ill-educated members of our new under class could walk in front of a car holding a flag?

Don’t forget for one moment that global warming isn’t caused by the car or humans. Remember that CO2 is a life-giving component of our environment and not a killer. These killjoy, car-hating politicians are more concerned with ordering us about than saving the climate (as long as they retain their chauffeur-driven limos). It does seem that the car of the future will be a fuel-sipping, lethargic apology for its former self. Given that the oil will run out one day and alternatives will have to be found, that’s probably no bad thing.

Low expectations
So I approached the launch of Volkswagen’s new Polo BlueMotion without much expectation. After all, this BlueMotion moniker is VW’s trumpeted answer to the environmentalists demand for a cleaner car.

Looking at its specifications doesn’t exactly raise the pulse-rate. The Polo BlueMotion has a 1.4 litre, 3-cylinder diesel engine which produces about 80 bhp. According to VW, this motor will attain an amazing average fuel consumption of 74.3 mpg-3.8 l/kms and CO2 emissions of 104 g/km. The latter figure will allow the BlueMotion to join the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrid as exempt from road tax in Britain.

I have often ridiculed manufacturers’ over-the-top data about fuel consumption, not least Toyota’s spurious claim for the Prius hybrid - still claimed to be 65.7 mpg-4.3 l/kms on its website, but which is only about 42 mpg-6.7 l/kms in the real world. So I’m wary of VW’s claims for the Polo BlueMotion. In VW’s defence, I’ve found its claims about fuel consumption to be the most reliable and least exaggerated of all the car makers. I’ll report back when I’ve had the chance to drive one on an extended test.

On the road, the Polo BlueMotion was surprisingly lively. Sure, it sounded a bit noisy, and was quite highly geared, but it had plenty of available power at lower speeds, and felt comfortable at barely legal speeds on the motorway. The drive was very acceptable and enjoyable, just like its non-BlueMotion siblings.

Many improvements
VW says that this version of the Polo doesn’t really employ new, cutting edge technology, but is just a compilation of many improvements in engine design and body shape, to cut drag. Many components have been redesigned to cut weight. The electro-mechanical power steering saves fuel by only requiring use when the wheel is turned. Even the under-body has been redesigned, to improve the air flow and therefore fuel use. The two-valves per cylinder motor uses the latest high pressure technology to eke out fuel use. It sounds very noisy from the outside, but inside the sound-proofing does a good job.

VW said it has pulled out all the stops to achieve the best fuel economy, but there’s one innovation it hasn’t gone for. A surprising omission is Stop Start technology, which is now ubiquitous on BMW vehicles and many Peugeots. As the name suggest, this acts to cut the engine out in traffic and automatically fires it up again when you move off and saves a few percentage points of fuel. VW says it hasn’t included this because an attempt in the past wasn’t popular. I predict that VW will soon change its mind on this.

There has to be some bad news, and you won’t be surprised to hear it’s the price. The BlueMotion comes in two versions and VW eloquently describes them as “1” and “2”. The base “1” version with 3-doors costs an eye-popping £12,000-€17,300, without air conditioning, although it does include a radio/MP3 compatible CD player, electric windows, a trip computer, ABS and 4 airbags. BlueMotion 2 adds things like air conditioning, leather trim, and rain sensing wipers. This starts at £12,845-€18,500.

The BlueMotion concept will find its way across the entire VW range with Golf and Passat equivalents and this raises an interesting question. If the European manufacturers, as promised, do offer versions of their cars which are super fuel-sippers, what happens if the public doesn’t buy them? VW doesn’t say what percentage of their sales will go to BlueMotion versions. After all, you can buy a petrol engined Polo which does nearly 50 mpg-5.7 l/kms for almost half the price of a BlueMotion version. Or could the cynic in me be right when the car companies say after about a year of this that the public just isn’t prepared to pay more money for economy cars?

Neil Winton – September 30, 2007

VW Polo BlueMotion 1

1.4 litre 3-cylinder diesel
80 bhp @ 4,000
five speed manual
front wheels
0-62 mph-100 km/h – 12.8 seconds
Top Speed:
109 mph-176 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 74.3 mpg-3.8 l/lms
CO2 Emissions:
99 g/km
195 Nm @ 1,800
Weight: 1,084 kg
strut/torsion beam trailing arm
Warranty: 3 years, 60,000 miles
Service Intervals: 20,000 miles -2 years
Insurance group:
Would I buy one?
**** out of 5
great economy, no compromises
except the price

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