Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion

German brand’s first stop-start model is a fuel-saving winner

The BlueMotion label is now one of the most recognisable eco brands around, but Volkswagen has been here before. Back in 1994, its first stop-start model, the Golf Ecomatic, was a novelty. As this test proves, however, the Passat BlueMotion 2 is part of a growing trend.

It shows that family motorists don’t have to squeeze into a tiny city car or supermini to reap the benefits of stop-start technology, and uses an economical diesel engine to minimise fuel consumption.

At first glance, the big saloon looks like a normal version of the car, but it rides 15mm lower to the ground, and features a unique grille and blanked-off air vents in the front bumper. These are designed to improve the model’s aerodynamics and minimise drag.

Inside there are fewer concessions to its environmental aims, with high-quality trim and familiar Passat fixtures and fittings. You even get luxuries like an ESP stability system, air-con and cruise control as standard. You don’t feel short changed on the move, either, as the 2.0-litre diesel engine produces 108bhp and delivers surprising punch, with 0-60mph dispatched in 11.3 seconds.

This is all the more impressive as its five-speed manual gearbox features longer third, fourth and fifth ratios to aid economy. You’d expect that to blunt its responses, but the lively Passat was perfectly capable of dealing with the long motorway trip to Bristol, where it was impressively refined in the cut and thrust of our early morning test route.

Its stop-start set-up kills the engine when you step off the clutch with the car in neutral. Press the clutch again to select first and it restarts – with a slight judder – and you’re ready to go.

It was working quickly on our test, despite the cold start, and while it isn’t as refined as the BMW system, or its smaller petrol counterparts, the process soon becomes second nature. Look at our overall fuel return and it clearly pays dividends, as the BlueMotion 2 managed 46.8mpg – the second best of the group.

The VW’s emissions of only 128g/km are an exact match for the more complicated (and faster) BMW 320d – and at £18,095 it’s much cheaper than its prestige rival.

Details

WHY: A large family car with an eco-conscience and room to spare. Does VW’s size count against it here?

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