Dec 22 2008 Jonathan Smith
Saving money in BlueMotion
I HAVE to admit a certain feeling of smugness after most journeys in VW's Golf BlueMotion.
I leave the onboard computer mostly on the average mpg setting and check the figure before switching off the engine - the result is rarely below 52mpg, and occasionally I've topped the 60 mark.
Part of my satisfaction is probably down to my skin-flint nature and some of it is the realisation that economy driving can be (almost) as much fun as clogging it. But above all, I remain constantly amazed that my journey times on a regular 45-mile office dash have stayed within a couple of minutes of my average when driving a gas-guzzling, CO2-consuming 150mph sports car.
And the fuel bill in the Golf works out at exactly half - and that's taking into consideration the absurd differential in the price of diesel over petrol.
I have now clocked up 2,000 in the two months I have driven the smart black VW which has been treated to just a single handwash. Overall, it is a comfortable and easy going companion with loads of space and user friendly controls that are so much more practical than the latest breed of IT-led models that require you to almost complete a course in preparation to driving.
The old-school 1.9-litre diesel is a shade noisy and distinctly rattly compared with the new breed of oil-burners, but there's nothing lacking in its performance. I frequently find myself having to slacken off on the motorway as the speedo needle sails past the legal limit and the mid-range, high gear acceleration is eager thanks to strong torque - 184lb/ft.
The concept of the BlueMotion, which is becoming a feature of most VW ranges, is to make an everyday family model that's a bit more frugal and green through a series of simple modifications. Underfloor streamlining, low resistance tyres and specially chosen gearing as well as some engine management tweaks help to lower the CO2 level to a tax efficient 119g/km which means it is in the £35 a year band B.
There's little visually to give the game away. A neat rear spoiler, special alloy wheels and miniscule, silver BlueMotion badges are the main indications that you're green and mean. And from a driving point of view, the five door hatch feels little different from the standard article, which means it's sound and practical but don't expect an adrenalin rush. Nevertheless, 116mph and a 0-62mph time of 11 seconds isn't at all bad for such an economical five seater.
Shortly after taking delivery of the car in September, pictures of the next generation Golf landed on my computer. With many of the styling cues of the current version carried over, it appears remarkably unremarkable to my eyes. Shame the interior stylists have discarded the familiar blue fascia backlighting - especially appropriate in the BlueMotion.
With everyone counting their cash more carefully, the principle of BlueMotion is more relevant than ever. I just wish some pressure was exerted on oil companies who are exploiting the popularity of diesel cars by increasing the fuel price gap.
Volkswagen Golf 1.9 Match TDI BlueMotion 5dr
Price : £16,775
Mechanical : 105bhp, 1,896cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5spd manual gearbox
Max speed : 116mph
0-62mph : 11.3 secs
Combined mpg : 62.8
Insurance group : 6
CO2 emissions : 119g/km
BiK rating : 18%
Warranty : 3yrs/ 60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 12 yrs anti-rust.