GOLF ON THE GREEN! Volkswagen has applied some of the lessons it has learnt from its BlueMotion programme to its new 1.6-litre engine in the Golf. Ian Robertson reports
It’s a little under a year since Volkswagen launched its sixth generation Golf onto the UK market, and the expansion of the range continues apace. Not content with unveiling sporty GTI and GTD models, and a fresh Golf Estate, now the German car maker has turned its attention to perk up the entry level diesel engines in the Golf range. The 108bhp 2.0- litre turbodiesel engine that kicked off the range initially has been booted out in favour of a brand new common-rail 1.6-litre TDI engine.
Available in both 89bhp and 104bhp variants, the new engine develops less CO2 emissions and achieves better fuel economy. And as if a new engine is not enough, Volkswagen has added a lower CO2 version, dubbed BlueMotion Technology, boasting efficiencies learnt through its renowned BlueMotion programme. This means the addition of low rolling resistance tyres, a lower ride height and optimised aerodynamics, with the cooling ducts for the engine moved from the front to underneath the car. An innovative stop/start system cuts power when the gearstick is in neutral, together with regenerative braking. There’s also higher gearing for the five-speed gearbox, meaning those essential fuel economy figures are maximised.
Out on the road, you barely notice the eco-measures, with only the stop/start system giving things away. The Golf is extremely well composed, with tidy handling, oodles of grip and communicative steering. It is one of those cars that you feel totally relaxed driving, with a supple ride and low levels of engine and road noise. The 1.6-litre engine is refined and punchy on the move, with adequate performance. With 104bhp on tap, it is hardly going to set the world on fire, but there’s plenty of go, as and when you need it. It’s a shame that the gearbox doesn’t have a sixth ratio, but the five speed ‘box is smooth and fluid. On cold mornings, the engine warms though extremely quickly, providing plenty of heat to the cabin in a short space of time.
Quality is a VW watch word, and the Golf is no different. Everything is screwed together nicely, but it could be said that the dashboard is styled on the staid side. The soft-touch plastics are nicely finished and give an overall feeling that the cabin is built to last. The chunky steering wheel is nice to hold, with plenty of adjustment to achieve a decent, and comfortable driving position. The seats are firm and supportive, with plenty of head and legroom up front, and for passengers in the rear. The boot is sensibly shaped, and at 350 litres offers plenty of room. It’s a shame that the seats don’t fold totally flat though, when you need to access the extended 1,305 litres of space.
Volkswagen charge a £410 premium for its BlueMotion Technology package, which boosts fuel economy by 6.1mpg and lowers CO2 emissions by 12g/km. Currently this doesn’t result in cheaper car tax compared to the standard 1.6 TDI, but simply provides buyers with an inner glow knowing that they are driving one of the greenest Golf’s on sale. We say one of, because there’s now an even greener Golf on sale that produces just 99g/km of CO2 and costs from £17,325 – and that does result in zero vehicle excise duty. Form an orderly queue here.
RIVALS: Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI SE, Ford Focus ECO netic 1.6 TDC i, Vauxhall Astra S 1.3 CDT i 16v ecoflex
- Engine: 1598cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max power: 104bhp at 4,400rpm
- Max torque: 185lb ft at 1,500 to 2,500rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,400kg
- Max speed: 118mph
- 0-62mph: 11.3secs
- Combined consumption: 68.9mpg
- CO 2 emissions (taxband): 107g/km (B)
- Bootspace: 350/1,305litres
- Insurance group: 16
Lower CO2 emissions, great to drive, fantastically refined, outstanding quality
Staid styling, rear seats don’t fold totally flat, lacks the sixth gear of some rivals