VW Polo Bluemotion 2

Bosses claim it’s one of the most efficient cars money can buy. But will the upgraded supermini really deliver?

  • Long gearing a benefit on motorways, sits in Tax Band A, as user-friendly as a 'normal' Polo
  • Air-con ups CO2 emissions, disappointing cross-country economy, technology doesn't justify premium price

For Volkswagen, this new version of the Polo is just the tip of the iceberg. In future, the Bluemotion badge will be worn by the most fuel-efficient model in each range – so hot on the heels of the supermini will follow clean variants of the Golf and Passat.

But what sets the Bluemotion apart from the rest of the Polo line-up? Well, it features more aerodynamic bodywork, a revised 1.4-litre direct-injection diesel and reworked five-speed manual gearbox, as well as low-rolling-resistance tyres and lighter wheels.

It’s the work of a department VW set up specially to look into boosting its green credentials, and the quoted results are very impressive. The entry-level Bluemotion 1 is the only car on sale in the UK to sit in tax band A – its 99g/km CO2 output means you don’t pay any road tax.

However, our Bluemotion 2 model is fitted with air-con, and that alone is enough to drive emissions up by 5g/km and economy down by 3.7mpg. This means a £35 annual tax bill – although we reckon it’s a price worth paying for the benefit of having cool air in the summer.

Other than the new grille and lower skirts, which help the Polo achieve a 0.30Cd drag factor, you wouldn’t know that you’re driving a ‘green’ car. Inside, everything is the same as the standard model. There’s no hi-tech trip computer or fancy graphics – VW obviously wants the Bluemotion to be as user-friendly as any other Polo.

Around town, we didn’t spot any differences in the driving experience, either. But once on faster-moving roads, we soon noticed the longer gear ratios in third, fourth and top. In fact, the Polo’s gearing is the longest in this test, with 70mph pulling only 2,000rpm. This is a real benefit on the motorway, but the gaps between ratios mean you have to hold on to one gear for a comparatively long time before changing up on A-roads. We often found ourselves driving around in a gear lower than normal, which isn’t great for economy.

The VW has 165/70 R14 tyres, which are so low on rolling resistance, they enable it to coast a long way without appearing to lose momentum. As a result, it was the most fuel-friendly car during our motorway test. But we were surprised its returns dropped to fourth best in the cross-country section.

And so the Polo struggles to justify itself. The technology isn’t as clever as the premium on the price suggests. It costs £12,845, which is £1,128 more than the much better-equipped 1.4 TDI SE. Yet the Bluemotion 2 is only 7kg lighter, 0.02Cd cleaner through the air and 4mpg more efficient. The VW is a step in the right direction... but a small one.

Details

Price: £12,845Model tested: VW Bluemotion 2Chart position: 4WHY: Tweaks to the engine and bodywork help set this Polo apart – but just how effective are they?

Economy

Urban: 40.2mpg Cross-country: 61.2mpg Motorway: 68.5mpg Combined: 58.0mpg

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