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Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion: final report
Model: Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion 1.6 TDI 105
On fleet since: June 2010
Official combined mpg: 74.3 (99g/km CO2)
Actual mpg: 57.0
Performance: 0-62mph 11.3secs / 118mph
Power/Torque: 105@4,400rpm / 185@1,500rpm
List price: £18,715
Insurance group: 18
Options fitted: Leather multi-function steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake (£430), metallic paint (£430), alarm (£220), Multi-Device Interface stereo with central armrest (£340)
Price as tested: £20,135
Pros: Terrific all-rounder, outstanding economy, quality and usability
Cons: Overall perfection highlights detail niggles, no spare wheel
The MSN Cars long-term VW Golf Bluemotion was one of the most popular and widely-loved cars we've run. It seemed to do it all - and deliver great economy throughout. It's now sadly departed: here's what we thought of our extended spell behind the wheel...
What was great about it?
You expect a Golf to do all the family car stuff well - and it does, but that's to sell it short. This is one of the best all-rounders you can buy. It's not only hard to fault, but is constantly satisfying: it could be dull and adventureless, but it's actually a constant 'on your side' pleasure.
Everything just works, but works with sophistication. It's roomy, the boot is big and well-shaped, the door bins are accommodating, the dials are clear. Visibility is good, controls are precise, the stereo is clear and easy to use, the ride is compliant (albeit a bit more irritable than a standard Golf due to the lowered suspension).
The engine is a gem. VW's 1.6-litre TDI isn't the most powerful around, but the 105hp motor has great pulling power and tremendous flexibility. Its stop-start functionality also worked well, only ducking out when the wintry weather got really cold.
And, the economy. Exceptional. This car averaged nearly 60mpg: on a motorway run, 65mpg was the trip computer norm, and 70mpg-plus was easy to achieve. We even had it up to 91mpg early on in our tenure: this is real-world ultra-economy without a single compromise. Staggering.
What wasn't so great?
No car is perfect, but the Golf did a pretty good job of trying. Which means grumbles seem minor in the grand scheme of things: the door mirror control was awkward, the rear bench seat was flat and shapeless for passengers, the arm rest always got in the way of the handbrake.
By Ford Focus standards, the handling is a bit soft when pressed, and the engine's initial vigour does fade away when pressed harder. It was also oddly easy to stall, though this did mean we discovered the 'auto restart' function early on: dip the clutch again and the engine fires automatically.
The biggest grumble we had appeared towards the end of our time with the Golf. As it's an eco special, the Golf Bluemotion puts weight saving top of the agenda. Which means the heavy spare wheel is deemed excessive, and is replaced by a puncture repair kit. Fine, unless you're off to the airport, on holiday, and hit debris on the M6...
One terrifying smash into a great concrete slab later and cue a damaged wheel, cracked bumper and destroyed front tyre. Nothing else to do, but call the AA, get recovered back home, and miss the flight to the holiday we'd been planning for months. An eco step too far?
Was it expensive to run?
Until the accident, not at all. Economy was exceptional and, if funds were running low prior to a big trip, simply cut the speed by 5mph to gain 5mpg on the average economy. It was that simple.
The overall cost of the accident, to fix the bumper, wheel, tyre and inner front wing, nudged £700, which wiped out any fuel savings, but this wasn't VW's fault. Apparently, it was nobody else's fault, either - meaning we swallowed the cost of the holiday we couldn't take. That's something even the amazing do-it-all Golf Bluemotion could not quite solve.
Would I recommend it to you?
Without a doubt. This is probably the best real-world family eco car you can buy - yes, better even than the Toyota Prius and other green hybrids. It calls for no compromises and gives deep satisfaction on a broad array of levels. As a long-term ownership proposition, it has few rivals.
What am I driving next?
I'm into a Renault Megane Coupe - with the 1.5-litre dCi engine and EDC twin-clutch automatic. To see if eco motoring can go hand-in-hand with a coupe-style bodyshape.
It won't be as economical as the VW - few things are - but I'm looking forward to a different slant on family hatch motoring, that's a bit more selfish and driver focused.
Report 1: VW Golf Bluemotion arrival
Report 2: VW Golf Bluemotion gets a run-in
Report 3: VW Golf Bluemotion's mpg adventures
Report 4: VW Golf Bluemotion attracts attention
Report 5: VW Golf Bluemotion gets the blues
Report 6: VW Golf Bluemotion vs winter
Report 7: VW Golf Bluemotion hits a snag
Report 8: VW Golf Bluemotion final report (this report)
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