16.8.2010 VW Polo BlueMotion review
Volkswagen’s Polo BlueMotion pulls together all the German company knows about low fuel consumption and exhaust emissions in a quality package but there’s the usual price problem of small diesel cars. A 1.2 litre Polo petrol costs £4,655 less before negotiating any discount. That means you have to do a huge mileage even to break even. The Polo BlueMotion may make sense as a used buy but do your sums first. Advances in other areas means weight isn’t as critical as before, allowing VW to fit air conditioning now and, even, sound-deadening materials.
Review by Russell Bray for WhatGreenCar.com
Three-cylinder turbo-diesel 1199cc engine sounds and feels quite rough at times, but when warmed up at higher revs it sounds characterful, reminding almost of a junior 911 from the Porsche’s early days. With 133 lbs ft of torque there’s no problem keeping pace with traffic but don’t pull into the outside lane on dual carriageways to overtake without taking a good look behind first. At around 2,000rpm in third gear the engine sounded almost as if it was ‘pinking’. Top speed was 107mph with 0-62mph in 13.9 seconds.
Nothing to get excited about; this is the car as transport not a dynamic delight so it does all that owners will ask of it with comfort and safety. Controls such as steering, brakes and gear change need little effort. Motorways are easily within its performance and ability remit but while overall noise levels on smooth surfaces are okay, on long hauls the general road noise, mainly from the hard tyres I suspect, was tiring.
With a ‘face’ drawn from the latest VW Golf, the new Polo, though larger than the original Golf of 1974, manages to look compact in a well tailored, smart yet sensible suit that does the job and won’t offend. An M&S car if you like. Lower ride height and blanked-out air ducts are in the interests of fuel economy and air management rather than looks. Low-rolling resistance tyres are claimed to save two to four g/km in CO2 emissions but don’t do anything for ride comfort. Length 3970mm. Width 1682mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Seats are solid and well shaped and controls sensible and logical but I couldn’t live with the overall noise and refinement other than for short trips. The car shakes when the automatic stop-start system restarts the engine and there’s vibration a lot of time through the steering wheel and gearlever. The gearchange indicator encourages lots of near tick-over speed running which doesn’t ‘feel’ mechanically sympathetic and makes driving rather a chore. Car has a 5-speed gearbox avoiding the weight of a 6-speeder.
Dispelling the environmental hair shirt image the Polo isn’t poverty spec and boasts as standard air conditioning, remote central locking, front electric windows, cruise control, front fog lights, alloy wheels, six-speaker radio with CD player, anti-lock brakes and front airbags. There’s even tyre pressure indicators to save you grovelling in the dirt every week and driver and front passenger ‘active’ head restraints to reduce whiplash if hit from behind. Maybe it’s the cabin styling but somehow it still feels spartan. Options include metallic paint £405, rear parking sensors £265 and satellite navigation £815.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official fuel figures, other than urban, are getting silly. The original 1.4TDI PoloBlue Motion scored 74mpg on the combined cycle. This new 1.2 litre claims 80mpg. Practicing economy techniques, and trying hard not to inconvenience traffic not on a mileage marathon, I saw 68.2mpg on the car’s computer. Driving more normally with more town driving saw 57mpg and that’s just with me aboard and without a hill in sight. This is equates to a fuel cost of 6.6p per mile. CO2 emissions of 91g/km put the Polo in tax band A with no annual road tax and no London Congestion Charge. Insurance group five. Warranty three years/ 60,000 miles.
A suite of features. Automatic stop-start system said to save 4-8g/km of CO2, optimised gear ratios for economy with gear change indicator (3-8 g/km) providing you drive gently, more wind cheating aerodynamics plus lower ride height (1-2g/km) regenerative braking that charges the battery on over-run (2-3g/km) and low-rolling resistance tyres (2-4g/km). Performance issue aside, VW intended this car to be one of the best-in-class superminis. With a WhatGreenCar rating of 26 it certainly is just that.
Model tested: Volkswagen Polo Blue Motion 1.2 TDI
Body-style: Three door small family hatchback
Engine/CO2: 1.2 litre, 3-cyl turbo diesel (74bhp @ 4200rpm)
Trim grades: Blue Motion spec only. Polo also in S, Moda, SE, SEL
On-road price: From £14,445.
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 stars
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