You know the feeling; there you are, in the pub with your mates, chatting away happily, and then you mention you’re planning on buying a new car, and it’s going to be ‘eco-friendly’.
Suddenly there’s a hush as those people who had previously seen you as a normal, friendly human being reconfigure their thoughts and see you as a muesli-munching, obsessively recycling individual who would rather knit their own sunbathing trunks than buy something which had been transported more than 10 miles.
Ok, that’s extreme, but you get the picture. Sure we’re all ‘doing our bit to save the planet’, but when it comes to driving an eco-friendly car; well, questions are generally asked about your state of mind. That was until now.
Think of an eco-friendly and what pops into your mind? One of those silly little electric G-Whizz things, or one of the Japanese hybrid creations which looks as though they’ve been pulled straight out of a windtunnel; hence the fact they all look like elongated teardrops?
Thankfully Volkswagen has been quietly working away behind the scenes in their ever-efficient German way developing its range of Bluemotion engines and models. Having made its debut a few years ago in the Polo, the latest production is the Golf Bluemotion 1.6 TDI. And it’s excellent.
This is no mollycoddling, limp-wristed, wheezy attempt at eking out the last drop of fuel; this is a Golf. And it’s a spanking good-looking Golf at that. While rivals look as though they’ve been on some sort of extreme diet, the Golf Bluemotion not only comes with low-resistance tyres on stylish alloy wheels, but it’s also got lowered sports suspension. It really does look the part.
Inside, of course, there’s everything which makes the sixth generation of the Golf the success it is. All the switchgear feels refined, solid and smooth to the touch, while there’s ample space for four adults, five at a squeeze.
And while the driving position remains one of the best in its class, the Golf also remains one of the most versatile cars on the market. It still is the class act of the hatchback brigade.
But what sets the Bluemotion apart is what’s tucked away under the bonnet. Now don’t worry; I’m not going to give you a meticulously detailed breakdown of the technical bits which make the engine so clever. Suffice to say — warning, this is the techie bit! — apart from only small mods to the crankshaft, valve and oil pump drives (see, that’s it over with … well done!) it’s basically the same 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine you find elsewhere in the range.
Like those other 1.6-litre, 103bhp models, this car cracks on to 60mph in 11.3secs and hits a max of 118mph. Thanks to the technical tweaks, what sets it apart is it returns 68.9mpg and has a CO2 figure of just 99g/km. Now that’s impressive. And get this. On a full 55-litre tank of diesel, it has a theoretical range of around 900 miles. That enough for a return trip between Dundee and Oxford.
What further helps the frugalness of the Bluemotion is the fact the Golf is fitted with taller gear ratios and a gearshift indicator to help you maximise your fuel efficiency, plus start/stop, hill hold and regenerative braking, all of which have a significant effect on fuel saving. To round off the eco-tweaking, the Bluemotion also gets a subtle body kit.
Like some of its rivals, the start/stop system works seamlessly, so long as it’s not below 5deg C outside (when it switches out) — ok, that may be a bit of a loss in the winter, but you get the gist. You soon get used to the engine petering out while you wait at the lights only for it to thrum into action again as you depress the clutch and go for first.
And despite the fact it’s only fitted with five gears, the Bluemotion is a ‘very normal’ — and that’s meant as a compliment — car when it comes to daily driving. Out on the road — whether you’re pottering through your local village, or doing the daily grind between Glasgow and Edinburgh, or loading the car and heading to the golf club — you’d struggle to say whether the car is a regular diesel variant or a eco-Golf.
In three-door form the £18,925 Bluemotion looks at its best, as is the case across the rest of the Golf range. If you fancy two rear doors for easier access, that’ll set you back around another £585. So there you are. Next time your friends come round for a drink, just see how they react when they see your Golf Bluemotion parked in the drive.