Something’s up with the car world. Unless we’re hallucinating, it looks like the major manufacturers are actually starting to try and produce vehicles which are designed to be fuel frugal, instead of sticking their head in the sand about the economic and environmental situation. The result is more and more cars on the road which give more miles per gallon, without sacrificing quality, performance or style.
The new 2015 VW Golf TSI Bluemotion is a classic case in point. This latest model features a new turbo-charged 3 cylinder engine, capable of delivering 127 mph, alongside a petrol consumption figure of up to 76.3 mph on the ex urban cycle. And yes we said petrol, not diesel. Not since we reviewed the Ford Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost back in 2013 have we seen this kind of performance from such a small lightweight powertrain configuration. 3 cylinders is clearly the new black.
This new Golf model follows on from the new design ethic of the latest generation of generic VWs in that it sports the more compact, squat look of the current Mk7 (aka 7th generation) models. But there are differences. For one thing the new TSI Bluemotion is lower to the ground, has a redesigned front grill and low resistance tires, all designed to keep the fuel consumption low and the aerodynamics sleek (at 0.28Cd, 10% better than it’s current cousins). Check out our video below to get an idea of how it drives.
The result is a car that looks quite sporty without trying too hard, which actually sums up the whole car in a lot of ways.
The real surprise is just how amazingly smooth the new 3 cylinder engine is. This is the same engine as in the VW Up!, but with an added turbocharger which gives it the extra oomph which Golf drivers demand. In fact this Golf is faster than the original Golf GTI which was introduced back when dinosaurs ruled the earth, which shows just how far technology has come since then.
The engine also surprises in terms of performance. The 0 – 62 mph figure of 9.7 seconds and 127 mph maximum are just part of the story. The car also boasts bags of mid-range torque, which means it can accelerate rapidly for safe overtaking when needed, although you may need to work the gears a fair amount to ensure adequate take-up. In general we were mightily impressed by the smoothness and the tractability of the engine. It was just as at home poodling around in sixth or fifth gear at suburban speeds as you’d expect from a top line 4 cylinder engine.
In fact when we think back to the Ford Ecoboost equivalent, the stakes have been raised all round. Where the Ford block is more racy sporty and requires lots of energy to drive in town, the TSI Bluemotion comes across as very unfussy, a pussy cat in comparison. And with significantly more power on tap when needed. Mind you that comes at a cost of course.
Comfort and style
There’s not a lot to say about the Golf as a family car, because there’s no compromises with this model at all. There’s bags of room in the back, a capacious luggage hold, lots of knick knack space and generous leg room throughout. It’s a Golf right? The thinking man’s horse and buggy.
But what about those amazing fuel consumption figures we hear you ask? Well as with everything to do with car marketing, this is the area which is most open to interpretation. In strict legal terms, the vehicle is rated at Urban 53.3 mpg, ex urban 76.3, and combined 65.7 mpg. But of course those official test figures are obtained from some very strict conditions, which will be much harder to replicate real world.
In our road tests, which was admittedly far too short to give a definitive answer, we saw around 46 mpg on the computer, but bearing in mind the typically heavy right foot of most motoring journalists, this is probably to be expected. The important thing to remember, however, is these figures make the new model a comparable vehicle to a diesel equivalent, but without all the hassles involved with particulate filters, maintenance etc. Not to mention the cheaper cost of petrol vs diesel anyway.
The controls and computer navigation system worked well, and we had no complaints about the handling or ergonomics of the car at all. In fact you quickly settle into the vehicle, or rather you fit into the nice snug seats and just get on with the driving or being driven bit. It’s really that boringly easy.
This new Golf has the feel of a new era of general purpose motoring. If one car manufacturer can get this level of refinement, performance, eco credibility (at just 99g /km CO2) and fuel economy out of a 3 cylinder engine, then it’s not going to be long before this type of specification becomes the norm, rather than the exception. When you combine it with the rise and rise of the hybrid powertrain, it’s clear that we’re in for a period of innovation, improved eco credibility and reducing prices as the technology in our vehicles starts to mature and deliver on its promise. It’s an interesting time.
Price on the road – From £19,740
C02 – 99 g / km
999cc, 3 cylinder, turbo charged, 6 speed manual (as tested), 115PS