The Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion demonstrates that saving money needn't make you feel a skinflint. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
The well-equipped Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion now comes with a petrol option that delivers a winning combination of performance and fuel economy, zipping to 62mph in a blink over ten seconds, yet returning nigh-on 69mpg. There's also a 75PS diesel version that can return over 90mpg and 82g/km of CO2 in regular use.
You probably have one of those friends who is annoyingly good with money. They check every receipt and invoice, know when and how to invest, understand how to make their money work for them and seem to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of pensions, mortgages and credit cards. They're the ones who link all their fuel purchases to a frequent flyer scheme and who seem to make everything they buy tax-deductible. They would probably adore the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. It's a car that makes all the numbers from a cost perspective, but it doesn't look the least bit cheap. If you want to look like you know how to manage your finances like a pro but actually don't know your APRs from your elbow, the Polo BlueMotion is your go-to supermini.
The Polo BlueMotion was always a diesel-powered thing. In fact, it still is as most sales will be of the 75PS 1.4-litre TDI variant. With the current version though, Volkswagen is also offering an intriguing petrol-engined option. It's the first time we've seen a non-diesel Volkswagen badged as a BlueMotion and the three-cylinder 1.0-litre TSI powerplant, which is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, is good for 95PS. That actually gives it a turn of pace that belies its tiny engine, getting to 62mph in 10.5 seconds. With the TSI, there's 118Nm of torque that comes in at 1,500rpm and lasts through to 3,500rpm, so you won't need to wring this car's neck in order to make respectable progress. Like the rest of the Polo range, the BlueMotion rides on a fairly straightforward Volkswagen chassis with little in the suspension set-up that's too radical. Up front are MacPherson struts while the rear end features a torsion beam and trailing arms.
Design and Build
The BlueMotion offers a few economy-oriented changes to the usual Polo exterior. In fact, it looks pretty sharp with its revised bumpers, grille, side skirts and roof spoiler. That's in addition to the standard front fog lights, body coloured door handles, body coloured door mirrors with integrated indicators, 15-inch alloy wheels and BlueMotion badging. Optional LED headlights are a first in the supermini sector, and have a distinctive light signature. Drop inside and the instrument panel has been redesigned as has the steering wheel design. The centre console has also been given a mild makeover with heating and ventilation controls now easier to operate. Soft touch plastics and subtle aluminium detailing are the order of the day but the cabin is notably less austere than before. There's a 280-litre boot which increases to 952-litres when the rear seats are folded down.
Market and Model
Both three and five-door versions are offered, with prices opening at just under £15,000 for the 1.0 TSI petrol model and just under £16,000 for the 1.4 TDI diesel. The BlueMotion trim level offers a few additional goodies over the S model on which it's nominally based. There's a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an alarm with remote central locking, air-conditioning, a front centre armrest, Volkswagen's infotainment system, cruise control and the clever Driver Alert System. The BlueMotion also features the Think Blue coaching software which analyses your driving style and offers hints and tips on how to drive more economically. Safety has been one area where the Polo scores very highly and all models now get a Hill Hold function and an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System which brakes the vehicle after a collision to reduce kinetic energy significantly, thereby minimising the chance or consequences of a second impact.
Cost of Ownership
There aren't too many petrol-engined cars that can hold a candle to the Polo BlueMotion when it comes to fuel efficiency. The 1.0-litre TSI engine returns a combined fuel-economy figure of 68.9mpg with emissions rated at just 94g/km. Of course, if you stump for the 1.4-litre diesel version of the Polo BlueMotion, economy is even better. This gets 91.1mpg with emissions of 82g/km, although the petrol-engined car offers lower benefit-in-kind bills for business operators. This being the BlueMotion model, you might expect it to be a bit pared back, but equipment levels aren't at all bad. The upshot of this is that you won't need to dilute residual values heavily by dipping into the options list too heavily.
The Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion is one of those cars that allows you to have your cake and eat it. Even though the TSI petrol version only packs a 1.0-litre petrol engine, it's got enough about it to give it some real zip in the city and the fuel economy figures speak for themselves. And the TDI variant is astonishingly clean and frugal. Unlike many eco models it looks good and it's even decently-equipped. One thing it's not is particularly cheap, but then you can't have everything. With prices starting at nearly £15,000, there are plenty of cheaper eco-superminis. Still, the Polo BlueMotion is a car that speaks for itself when it comes to retained values, giving it one of the lowest overall pence per mile figures of any production car. It's where the smart money will go in this sector.