Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion review
Is this another nail in dieselâ€™s coffin? Volkswagenâ€™s first Golf BlueMotion powered by a petrol station arrives in September. With more power than the original, legendary Golf GTI, it delivers the fuel economy of a diesel with the lower (Â£1,700) purchase price of a petrol car yet it is enjoyable to drive.
The car is much more refined than a diesel which would be a boon on long journeys. It will also save company car drivers the three per cent company car tax surcharge on diesel.
Review by Russell Bray
Surprisingly sprightly and with quite a sporty engine and exhaust note, the Golf TSI BlueMotion uses the 999cc three-cylinder engine from the Up but turbocharged to create the highest specific torque of any major series of petrol engines.
With 147 lbs ft from only 2,000 rpm, and 110 lbs ft already there from 1,500 rpm, forward thrust is rarely an issue, though diesels punch harder. Gear changing often isnâ€™t needed for planned overtaking manoeuvres. Acceleration to 62 mph takes 9.7 seconds and where legal, top speed is 127 mph.
The TSI BlueMotion feels like any other Golf to drive being smooth, relaxing and assured and you can be sure this front wheel drive car isnâ€™t going to deliver any nasty surprises if you do stupid things with the accelerator. The test route didnâ€™t really provide the cornering opportunities to seriously try the grip of the â€˜super lowâ€™ rolling resistance tyres.
Handling should be sharper than the diesel as the smaller engine reduces the weight on the front wheels by 15 kg even compared to a lighter petrol engine. Ride comfort was fine, despite the 15mm lowered suspension but the roads were very smooth.
The fuel saving aerodynamic tweaks to the Golf TSI are subtle so the hatchback, five doors in the case of our test car, remains instantly recognisable. Changes to the Golfâ€™s front grille with its automated cooling flaps mean you donâ€™t get adaptive cruise control or automatic front brake assist like on other models; at least not yet.
The cabin of the seventh generation Golf is the most accommodating yet and the general quality immediately obvious. Length 4255mm. Width 1799mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Peace and quiet has always been part of the Golfâ€™s appeal and despite the small turbocharged motor, the TSI BlueMotion was near silent at motorway speeds with only some wind noise discernible from around the door mirrors. The six-speed manual gear change is as slick and smooth as ever and the clutch well cushioned. The DSG automatic transmission (Â£1,450) is an option I would not go for though it does make life even easier.
The seats are big and comfy with a wide range of adjustment. The steering column adjusts for rake and reach. The rear seat folds and splits 60/40 but does not lie completely flat. In the cause of weight saving, if not long distance practicality, the BlueMotion has a can of sealant (hopefully) rather than a spare wheel, even a space saver.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
According to the official combined test fuel figures the Golf TSI BlueMotion returns 65.7 mpg. On flat, smooth roads near Amsterdam and avoiding traffic, according to the carâ€™s on-board computer we achieved 64.2 mpg in a six-speed manual gearbox version and 67.2 mpg in the seven-speed DSG automatic. The cars appeared to have been already warmed up. It will be interesting to try them in UK conditions. Both have carbon dioxide emissions of 99 g/km so there is no road tax payable.
The high 10.5:1 compression ratio of the engine helps allow easy cruising in high gears. The aluminium pistons and forged connecting rods are weight optimised so that a balancer shaft to smooth the engine is not required. Very small but extremely robust bearings for the crankshaft and connecting rods reduce friction in the engine. A toothed belt, rather than a chain drive, operates the four valves per cylinder, reducing engine friction by about 30%.
Thermal management is improved by integrating the exhaust manifold fully into the cylinder head. It is fitted with a separate cooling jacket to make the best use of exhaust gas energy during warm-up and to cool the exhaust gases for the turbo more effectively at high loads.
Weight saving â€“ yes, thereâ€™s a can of sealant not a heavy spare wheel â€“ and even better aerodynamics so the Golf can cruise on a whiff of throttle also improve the BlueMotionâ€™s low fuel thirst for a family size car. Automated radiator louvres open according to cooling needs to maximise efficiency and improved aerodynamic streamlining includes a rear spoiler and more extensive underbody covering.
The Golf TSI BlueMotion hatchback is based on Match trim with standard equipment including 16in alloy wheels, seven airbags, pre crash systems, post collision braking to reduce secondary impacts, cruise control, automatic engine stop-start with battery regeneration in traffic, ESC skid control prevention and XDS electronic differential lock to maximise cornering grip.
The automatically opening and closing flaps on the radiator mean the car doesnâ€™t have adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking at low speeds, but you do get a touch screen infotainment system, air conditioning and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Model tested: Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion
Body-style: Five-door hatchback
Engine/CO2: 113bhp 999cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol/ 99gCO2/km
Trim grades: Match and SE on forthcoming SV and Estate versions
On-road price: From £19,740. Price as tested £20,395
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: September
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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