Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion (2010- ) car review
- We like...Refinement; economy
- We don't...Yawning gap between gears
We like the Polo… a lot. And this one promises up to 80mpg overall, pushing to 90mpg on a motorway trip. Speaks for itself? We’ll see.
Volkswagen led the pack by introducing the Polo Bluemotion three years back. It was the first of a new breed of cars that used regular engines but managed fuel economy and emissions figures that amazed. That car quickly became a favourite and used ones command premium prices.
Can this one, joining the latest Polo line-up follow that lead? It ought to. The motor has shrunk to 1.2 litres and at 75bhp there’s less power than before. Carbon dioxide emissions drop by 8g/km to 91g/km. That’s good going, although it doesn’t bring with it any additional benefits from cheaper road tax.
As before, the Bluemotion is made more economical by tuning the engine to run as ‘lean’ as it can, getting it to stop when the car waits in traffic and using taller ratios for the upper gears. It runs on easy-roll tyres and wears subtle body add-ons and changes to help it slip through the air more easily. It also has sports suspension, which lowers the car.
Other cars promising similar emissions and economy are petrol-electric hybrids or full-on electric models. But hybrids are odd to drive and, for us, never come close to their claimed fuel economy. Electric cars, meanwhile, are expensive and have a range of 100 miles or less.
Meanwhile, this Polo promises to run 800 miles between fill-ups. That, for many of us, is a month’s driving.
To drive, it’s very… normal. If you’ve not driven a car with a stop-start device aboard, the motor halting whenever you’re stopped and have the gears in neutral feels weird. But it restarts in a blink as you dip the clutch and select gear and you’ll get used to it quickly.
The engine must work hard and it’s not quiet when it does. But its off-beat thrum is friendly, and easy on the ear. To get close to the promised 80mpg, you need to drive gently and to change up early – as the indicator on the dash nags you to. Obey it, though and you’ll soon discover a yawning gap between the lower two gears and the others.
Rev hard in second before changing up and it’s better if still less than ideal. Fifth gear, meanwhile, doesn’t feel ‘right’ unless you’re doing at least 45mph. If you’re happy to drive slowly, obey the change indicator and let the car struggle at low revs, it’ll be fine.
But if you’re a press-on driver, or one that listens to the car and works with it, this Polo’ll have you banging the dash in frustration. And that’s a pity because otherwise it’s like every other Polo. So it’s beautifully built, comfortable and refined. So much that you’re left wondering why you’d ever need a bigger or more expensive car. And in our hands it achieved a shade over 60mpg overall. While nowhere near its official figures (cars rarely are), that’s an impressive number.
Where the previous Bluemotion despite its steep price came with stingy standard kit, this one’s sensibly equipped. Alloy wheels and air conditioning, previously missing, are now standard.
Like other Polos it’s easy to drive – neat and precise if a little short on feed back to the driver. But the one thing that impresses is the way is eases over bumps. The lowered suspension improves the ride by introducing a little more control over poor surfaces. It’s truly excellent.
Should you buy one? If you cover plenty of miles and don’t mind driving them all gently, then yes. But if you prefer to drive with spirit – this Polo’s not for you.
To read what we think of the previous-generation Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion, click here
- Engines1.2 3cyl diesel
- 0-60 mph13.9secs
- Insurance groups
Motors.co.uk value verdict: