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First drive: Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.0 TSI. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.0 TSI
Still think you need diesel power for your Volkswagen Golf? Think again...

   



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Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.0 TSI

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Has petrol finally clawed back all the advantage that diesel stretched out in the past decade? Volkswagen seems to think so and our first drive of the impressive new petrol-powered Golf BlueMotion TSI suggests that there's little reason for most people to go for the diesel alternative now. Could this be a landmark car hidden under the sombre body of a normal Golf? We believe so.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 1.0 TSI Match
Pricing: as tested: 20,395 (range starts at 19,740)
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 99g/km (Band A, 0 per annum VED)
Combined economy: 65.7mpg
Top speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Power: 115hp at 5,000- to 5,500rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 2,000- to 3,500rpm
Boot space: 380- to 1,270 litres

What's this?

It's a Volkswagen Golf. Three little words that, really, tell you everything you need to know about this car. It has a body that manages to combine relatively quiet styling with utter social acceptability and a smidgen of desirability. It has an interior that is well crafted, well made and just the right side of predictable. It has done, is doing and will in likely perpetuity sell by the bucket-load. It's a Golf.

But it is just a tiny bit different. Back in 2007, Volkswagen both started a trend and set a devilishly high bar for family hatchbacks that majored on low fuel consumption and emissions. That original Golf BlueMotion, which used a 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine, had CO2 emissions of 119g/km and, in my own indelicate hands, averaged an easy 60mpg.

Now though, the world is changing. Not only has petrol technology done a serious job of catching up with its diesel brethren, but diesel itself has become something of a bad guy - lambasted and reviled now for causing needless inner city pollution, which has led to genuine spikes in lung disease and even death. Now, diesel engined passenger cars are hardly the culprits here (think buses, think trucks, think ageing taxi fleets), but nonetheless, soon cometh the day when the private diesel car owner will be financially penalised for driving in city centres, and cue then the rush back to petrol power.

In fact, Volkswagen is ever so slightly behind the curve on this - it has been four years since Ford introduced its 1.0-litre, three-pot EcoBoost to the Focus and PSA Peugeot Citroen has also beaten Volkswagen to the punch by just-recently fitting new PureTech 1.2 three-cylinder motors to the 308 and C4. Volkswagen, though, is going for yet another bar raising - its downsized petrol Golf is a BlueMotion model.

Well, not quite actually - slightly confusingly, the BlueMotion TSI will become part of the rest of the Golf range (hence this version we're driving here in Match trim) while the diesel BlueMotion remains a standalone model, for now.

Which seems a little odd - it seems to say that the petrol BlueMotion is somehow a lesser BlueMotion. Which it hardly is. We'll get on to how it performs in a moment, but there is some serious extra technology on offer here. This 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo is around 10kg lighter than the 1.2 TSI engine and a full 15kg lighter than the 1.4 TSI. It's fantastically lighter than the 1.6 TDI diesel too. There's a new light pressure turbo with an electric wastegate, some clever cooling systems in the cylinder head to reduce weight and speed-up warm-up and an on-demand oil pump. There are active radiator flaps, a blanked-off grille and a lower co-efficient of drag (0.28 compared to a standard Golf's 0.29). Low rolling resistance tyres and a 15mm lower ride height complete the BlueMotion package.

How does it drive?

Really smoothly. Volkswagen has not fitted any trick items such as balancer shafts to the engine - just carefully positioned and tuned hydraulic engine mounts, but the upshot is an engine of exceptional refinement. There is a faint three-cylinder thrum when you accelerate briskly, but at low throttle loads it's utterly quiet, with only a rustle of wind around the top of the windscreen and some mostly well-quelled tyre roar getting into the cabin. In fact, so used have we become to the rattle and hum of a diesel engine, even a very refined one, the BlueMotion TSI's vocal rectitude almost counts as eerie.

It is also really, genuinely economical. We are almost immune to inflated lab-tested fuel claims being unrealistic and unattainable. Not so here - Volkswagen quotes 65mpg on average. Driving with reasonable care and gentleness, we got 58mpg. Not bad at all. Better still, trying a DSG-equipped automatic version, and driving rather more briskly, we got 48mpg. And yes, that's on a warm, sunny day with the air conditioning going.

Combine that realistic prospect of 60mpg day-to-day economy with a 99g/km CO2 figure (no London congestion charge, free road tax) and there really is very little need to buy a diesel any more.

The rest of the car is as expected - it's a Golf, so it rides with terrific comfort (helped by sensible 16-inch alloys and balloon-profile 55-section tyres) and steers with reasonable directness and feel. It's resolutely not sporty, in spite of the 15mm ride height drop, but entirely pleasant and with better feedback from an enthusiastic driver's point of view than, say, an Astra or an Auris. Both a Focus and a Peugeot 308 have it done for steering feel though, if that bothers you. Quality and comfort in the cabin are both unimpeachable, as you'd expect.

Verdict

Perhaps it's not the most Earth-shaking new car launch this year. In fact, Volkswagen itself admits that it expected few to be interested in coming along on the event. But as it turns out, the BlueMotion TSI could be a bit of a landmark car. It really seems to scribe the demarcation point where petrol caught up with, possibly even passed out, diesel.

Smoother than the diesel, quieter than the diesel, near-as-dammit as economical and, in the most basic spec, the guts of two grand cheaper than the diesel, the TSI pretty much undermines the case for the diesel. You'd have to be driving to the moon and back every week to claw back the extra purchase price, and there's no tax benefit. Petrol, for the first time since the early 2000s, wins.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 3 Jun 2015



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2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.



2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI BlueMotion. Image by Volkswagen.
 






 

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