Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion vs Mercedes A180 CDI ECO

Latest eco hatches appeal to heart and head. But is new Mercedes A180 CDI ECO better than Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion?

Car buyers looking to avoid high running costs have never had it so good. Manufacturers are constantly launching new models that incorporate the latest energy-saving technology, and help motorists drive down their fuel consumption.

The compact hatchback class is at the cutting edge of this charge to boost efficiency, and now Mercedes has introduced a new low-CO2 A-Class into the fray. The A180 CDI ECO is based on the standard A180 CDI, but uses tricks such as lowered suspension, skinny tyres and long gearing to reduce emissions to 92g/km and boost fuel economy to a claimed 78.5mpg.

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion review

Mercedes A180 CDI ECO review

Against it we’ve set a pioneer among eco hatches: the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion. This was one of the first low emissions family cars, and the latest third generation promises strong emissions and economy figures of 85g/km and 88.3mpg respectively.

On paper, the Golf looks the better bet – it’s cheaper, too – but which of these eco-friendly models makes more sense in reality? Click the links above to read each review, and then read on for our road test verdict.

Head-to-head

Eco tweaks

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion vs Mercedes A180 CDI ECO rears

These eco models benefit from lowered suspension in an attempt to reduce aerodynamic drag, plus designers have also tweaked the bodywork to smooth airflow.

The Golf features a distinctive gloss black grille panel and lower side sills, while the A180 has received a more subtle update, with a body-coloured grille. At the back, both cars have extended spoilers with special side vanes that help to channel airflow.

Economy log

These cars also come fitted with comprehensive trip computers that help you to keep an eye on your mpg. The Mercedes has a bar graph that gives live info minute by minute (below); the Golf can show fuel usage for a single trip, from when you last filled the tank or even for the lifetime of the car.

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion vs Mercedes A180 CDI ECO readout

Options

look at the standard kit lists, and these models are pretty basic, but on options the Mercedes edges slightly ahead, with sat-nav and climate control on offer. VW’s extras are a little bit cheaper, and more packs are available.

Verdict

1st place: Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion front tracking

The Golf BlueMotion couldn’t quite match the Mercedes’ economy, but it’s a better car to use on a daily basis. It performs just like a regular version of the hatch and is beautifully built, while the six-speed gearbox makes it well worth the £280 extra over a standard 1.6 TDI.

2nd place: Mercedes A180 CDI ECO

Mercedes A180 CDI ECO front tracking

The A180 CDI ECO gave excellent economy on test, but it feels like the engine’s been strangled to reduce emissions. A vague gearbox and firm ride take the edge off a package that is otherwise appealing, thanks to its equipment list, style and upmarket image.

Figures

 Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion 5drMercedes A180 CDI ECO SE
On-the-road price/total as tested£21,270/£21,795£21,965/£29,705
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£10,486/49.3%£10,899/49.6%
Depreciation£10,784£11,066
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£552/£1,103£570/£1,139
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,298/£2,163£1,246/£2,076
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£319/A/£016/347/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£384 (3yrs/30k)£175/£440/£175
   
Length/wheelbase4,255/2,637mm4,292/2,699mm
Height/width1,452/1,799mm1,433/1,780mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc
Peak power109/3,200 bhp/rpm108/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque250/1,500 Nm/rpm260/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/repair kit40 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)380/1,270 litres341/1,157 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,280/535/1,000kg1,385/465kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.9 metres/0.27Cd11.0 metres/0.26Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60k)/1yr VW3yrs (unltd)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/223Variable/136
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.16th/25th5th/12th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars94/89/65/593/81/67/5
   
0-60/30-70mph9.2/8.9 secs11.9/11.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.4/6.5 secs5.2/8.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th8.1/11.7 secs11.7/15.6 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph124mph/1,800rpm118mph/1,850rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph51.0/37.1/9.7m57.3/40.2/10.5m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph61/47/62/67dB64/46/62/68dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range57.6/12.7/634 miles60.0/13.2/528 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined74.3/94.2/88.3mpg67.3/88.3/78.5mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined16.3/20.7/19.4mpl14.8/19.4/17.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket131/85g/km/13%126/92g/km/13%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park assist/cameraSeven/yes/£600/£165Seven/yes/£690/£300
Climate ctrl/leather/heated seatsNo/no/£375*£530/part fake/£300
Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go£525/no/£355£570/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothNo/yes/yes/yes£2,100/yes/£420/yes
Tyre monitor/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/£245£320/yes/£260

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