VW Passat Bluemotion smashes economy world record

October 7th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

So you think your cars is pretty economical because you once got 700kms out of a single tank, or pehaps 900kms if your were running on diesel. It’s not time to be patting yourself on the back just yet because a Volkswagen has just smashed the world record for distance covered on a single tank of diesel.

A team from the UK’s Sunday Times set off from Kent, England with a VW Passat BlueMotion and a full tank of diesel — then drove to the south of France and back again.

Averaging around 73kph, the team managed to travel a staggering 2,457 kilometers before it ran dry. The 1.6-litre TDI-equipped VW Passat BlueMotion used was a completely standard production model which features a lower ride height, Stop/Start tech, longer gearing and low rolling resistance tyres. As two witnesses drove behind them to verify the attempt for the Guinness Book of World Records, the Passat achieved around 2.61 l/100km economy — much higher than the officially quoted 3.66 l/100km rating.

Porsche to breathe life back into 356 roadster

April 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Porsche is busy fueling speculation that it will rebirth its famous 356 roadster.

According to a recent interview with a motoring magazine, Porsche says the rebirth of the company’s light-weight roadster will be realised in 2014. The 356 has obvious significance for originally set the tone for the company’s sporting intentions. At just 1,600 lbs the first 356 was powered by a 1.1-liter, 40 horsepower air-cooled unit.

There is probably some merit to the whispers whipping around motoring circles. Porsche has been considering an “entry” model priced below the Boxster, possibly based on VW’s BlueSport Concept (read news item) the company debuted at the North American International Auto Show. It would be great news if Porsche can keep from ruining the light-weight 356 name with hundereds of pounds of safety and unnecessary luxury equipment.

Porsche to breathe life back into 356 roadster

March 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Porsche are busy fueling speculation that it will rebirth its famous 356 roadster.

According to a recent interview with a motoring magazine, Porsche says the rebirth of the company’s light-weight roadster will be realised in 2014. The 356 has obvious significance for originally set the tone for the company’s sporting intentions. At just 1,600 lbs the first 356 was powered by a 1.1-liter, 40 horsepower air-cooled unit.

There is probably some merit to the whispers whipping around motoring circles. Porsche has been considering an “entry” model priced below the Boxster, possibly based on VW’s BlueSport Concept (read news item) the company debuted at the North American International Auto Show. It would be great news if Porsche can keep from ruining the light-weight 356 name with hundereds of pounds of safety and unnecessary luxury equipment.

The new VW Polo coming to NZ

March 5th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

VW Polo fq

The new VW Polo is set to come to New Zealand later this year, and looks well prepared to extend its popularity in our small car segment.

From the outset, the new Polo was specifically designed to attain the recently established, stricter and more comprehensive, 5-star EuroNCAP rating. The higher structural rigidity of the Polo’s bodyshell contributes to these results. In the footwell area alone, intrusion — related to the car body’s deformation strength in a frontal crash — was lowered by 50 percent! In the case of a side impact, the intrusion value was reduced by 20 percent. In addition, the new Polo is available with ESP electronic stabilisation program with Hill Hold Control, and it has a highly effective network of airbags on board, including combined head-thorax airbags (integrated in the front seatbacks).

Despite significant improvements in all aspects of the car, it was possible to reduce the weight of the Polo’s body structure by 7.5 percent. The introduction of new TDI and TSI engines and the 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DSG), has resulted in considerably reduced fuel consumption and emissions over a wide range of power outputs. These include all three TDI diesel engines. Thanks to the implementation for the first time of common rail technology in the Polo, these engines are both efficient and refined. The potential in the new TDI engines is clearly evident in the example of the Polo 1.6 TDI with 66 kW: when combined with a “BlueMotion package”, its average fuel consumption of 3.8L/100km and 96 g/km CO2 makes it the most fuel efficient and lowest emitting five-seater diesel in the world.

Volkswagen is also using the Geneva Motorshow for another world premiere. It is still a concept. Its name: Polo BlueMotion. Fuel consumption: 3.3 liters.CO2 emissions: just 87 g/km! Likelihood of going into production: extremely high! In addition to a brand new 1.2L TDI diesel engine with common rail injection, the Polo BlueMotion concept utilises an automatic start-stop system and regenerative braking. These two technologies alone reduce fuel consumption of the 55kW threecylinder direct-injection diesel by up to 0.2L/100km. But that is not all that is being done. On the Polo BlueMotion concept car, which weighs in at just 1,080 kilograms, Volkswagen is calling upon an entire array of efficiency measures, including an aerodynamic package for the body that is lowered by 10mm (including modified front end), an aerodynamically optimised underbody and low rolling resistance tyres on 15-inch alloy wheels. Altogether, these modifications yield fuel savings totalling 0.8L/100km. This has lowered CO2 emissions by about 20 percent

The Polo has been a successful model for the Volkswagen brand in NZ and the new model looks set to continue that trend. Dean Sheed, Volkswagen General Manager for New Zealand, believes that the new Polo will again set the benchmark in its segment: “The current Polo raised the bar when it was first launched in terms of safety and quality in the light car segment and I don’t see the new model being any different. Modern and efficient engines coupled with our new generation 7 speed DSG transmissions will produce a dynamic driving experience with minimal fuel consumption. We hope to launch the new Polo late this year and we’ll announce local specification and pricing closer to the time.”

VW shows Golf BlueMotion concept

September 9th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion concept fq

Volkswagen has today unveiled the remarkable Golf BlueMotion concept vehicle, a car capable of achieving a combined 3.17l/100km while emitting just 99 g/km of CO2.  This matches the economy of the Polo BlueMotion, itself among the most efficient vehicles currently on sale.

The BlueMotion label was first attributed to the Polo in 2006 (read a road test of the Polo BlueMotion by clicking here) and represents the most efficient model in each of Volkswagen’s passenger car ranges.  Since the Polo made its debut, BlueMotion versions of the Golf Mk V, Golf Estate, Golf Plus, Jetta, Touran, Passat, Passat Estate and Sharan have been launched in various markets worldwide.

The new Golf BlueMotion concept is powered by a highly-efficient and refined 1.6-litre TDI common rail diesel engine developing 105 PS and 249Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm.  Despite the focus on economy the Golf BlueMotion concept can reach 100kph from rest in a respectable 11.3 seconds.

As with all BlueMotion models the Golf BlueMotion adopts a series of changes to drivetrain and aerodynamics in order to maximise the vehicle’s efficiency.  A set of low rolling resistance tyres are joined by optimised aerodynamics and revised ratios in the five speed gearbox.  The resulting combination of changes works to reduce loading on the engine to drive up economy and reduce emissions.

In common with every diesel model in the forthcoming new Golf range the BlueMotion concept is fitted with a diesel particulate filter.

The UK gets the new BlueMotion Golf in mid-2009; New Zealand and Australian dates have not been announced yet.

Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 2007 Review

January 23rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion 2007 fq

As I’ve said before, hugely coincidental occurrences happen to me when testing cars. Today was the International Day of Action on Climate Change, a day to draw awareness to the things that we do that might be negatively influencing the climate. I turned up in the most frugal car available in New Zealand. No, it’s not a hybrid, it’s a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion which runs on the traditionally heavy polluting diesel. Whereas Toyota’s Prius boasts a combined cycle of 4.4 litres per 100km, the Polo 58kW, 1.4-litre BlueMotion slashes that to just 3.8l/100km, and just 99g/km of CO2. So I had reason to gloat (except to the beardy ones who turned up on bicycles).

Why Blue, though? Green-this, green-that sprouts up like a lush PR-friendly canopy, each marque trying to outdo the others in its espoused environmentalness. Even Ferrari is at it, which is just enviro-Mental.

VW’s corporate colour is blue, and their branding people implored them to draw parallels with the sky and sea — they obviously haven’t been to Blackpool on a bleak day. BlueMotion represents the model in each range that is the most environmentally friends, from its fuel consumption to its overall ability to be recycled (a minimum of 85%, and reusable to a minimum of 95% by mass). BlueMotion is VW’s philosophy that economic fuel consumption doesn’t come at the expense of driving fun.

The reductions in consumption and emissions have been achieved a number of ways. Taller gear ratios mean you don’t get out of third around town, and not into fifth until you’re cruising above 90kph. In fact, looking at the trip computer, it’s less economical to drive in fourth at around-town speeds than third. BlueMotion models come with a manual gearbox, which is more effective at transferring the power to the wheels. 165/70-sized low-rolling-resistance tyres surround 14-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension lowers the car by 10mm for better wind resistance, and a more aerodynamic grille ekes out further gains.

I expected the narrow tyres to squeal with protest at the slightly provocation, but it didn’t happen.

The first thing I noticed on the inside was how the seat covers reminded me of my school bus back in the mid-‘80s. It’s the only thing that detracts from an otherwise functional, if spartan, cabin. In the interests of saving weight, there is nothing unnecessary. Air conditioning, electric windows, heated electronically adjustable wing mirrors, remote central locking and immobiliser come as standard.

Sizeable storage trays under both front seats more than make up for the small glovebox and lack of central binnacle storage.

There are two ways to drive the Polo — economically, or without holding people up. I tried driving economically and achieved 4.4l/100km, worse than VW’s quoted combined cycle, but my run always includes the long uphill of the Harbour Bridge and the winding, traffic island-strewn back streets of Herne Bay and Grey Lynn. This way of driving often frustrates other drivers, though, because you pull away slowly. Then there’s what I would term my usual everyday ‘I’m quite busy driving’ — there’s no dawdling, but I’m still aware of economy, coasting up to lights, trying to carry speed through corners, and attempting to be in the right gear to have acceleration available. This yielded 4.9l/100km, which is still extremely impressive.

There has to be a compromise when you are paring a car down to its acceptable minimum, and in this case it’s engine noise. It pulls well for its size and power — 195Nm of torque helps the Polo to 100kph in a claimed 12.8s — but at idle it sounds agricultural. There’s also the $4,000 price premium over the incredibly frugal Polo TDi.

Research has shown that putting an instantaneous fuel usage gauge in a car tends to make people drive more economically. It worked with me. I was constantly trying to make the car more economical and I regularly achieved cruising fuel usages in the 2.8-3l/100km. I felt good (on a ‘green’ level) about driving the Polo BlueMotion. VW will bring out a BlueMotion version of every one of its cars in time. It’s an easy purchase for badge snobbery, and very justifiable on an environmental level, but will the premium over VW’s already frugal equivalent model range hamper sales? Only time will tell.

Click through to the next page to see specifications

Price: from $30,990; our test car was fitted with the optional curtain airbags ($800)

What we like

  • You can save the planet
  • It’s a long time between visits to the petrol station

What we don’t like

  • On a purely economic level it would take you lots of years to pay back the $4,000 price difference between the 1.4 TDi Polo and the BlueMotion if you take fuel savings alone
  • Seat covers are old fashioned
  • Intrusively noisy diesel clatter at idle

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

Model Year 2008 Specification Summary

Specifications are subject to change without notice. Effective 08/11/2007. Retail price does not include on-road costs.

Fuel consumption tested in accordance with EC directive 80/1268/EC. Consumption measured on European specification cars.

Retail Price (including GST) – Polo BlueMotion $30,990 (9N30Z4)

Performance & Fuel Consumption:

0-100 km/h 12.8

Top speed km/h 176

Combined l/100km 3.8

CO2 g/km 99

Safety equipment

3-point automatic seat belts

ABS braking system with Brake Assist

Driver and front passenger airbags, with front/side airbags

Electromechanical steering with safety steering column (steering wheel height & reach adjustable)

Front seat belt height adjustment and belt tensioners

ISOFIX mountings on rear seat

Outer rear view mirrors, electrically adjustable and heated

Rear fog light

Three rear headrests

Functional equipment

Climatic air-conditioning

Cupholder in dash and centre console

Electric windows, front & rear

Floor mats, front & rear

Height adjustable front seats

Illuminated vanity mirrors

Multifunction Display

RCD200 single CD/tuner and four loudspeakers

Remote central locking with vehicle immobiliser, interior monitoring

Silver outer rear view mirrors

Standard front seating

Storage trays under front seats

Technical

Aerodynamic body enhancements

Front-wheel drive

Galvanised body

Sports suspension (10mm lower)

Warranty and Assistance

3 year / unlimited km mechanical warranty, 12 year anti-corrosion warranty

3 year Volkswagen Roadside Assistance

Metallic paint surcharge of $500 applies