The past few years have seen low CO2 motoring come of age. Stripped out, low rent cars offering tax-dodging levels of CO2 are, thankfully, a thing of the past. What consumers, rightly, want now are all the performance benefits associated with a regular motoring experience plus the fuel-sipping qualities of those early cars.
With its Bluemotion sub-brand, Volkswagen has plenty of experience at the frugal end of the market. Its early efforts were pretty impressive, but you often felt like you were having to compromise in the usual areas of refinement and equipment levels.
The German car maker’s latest Polo has evolved into a nice little supermini. Actually, scratch that, as the car is now the same size as Volkswagen’s original Golf. Granted, everything’s got bigger in the last decade, and this current Polo is one of a number of outsize small cars that should appeal to downsizers seeking a smaller car but also keen to hold on to big car levels of refinement, comfort and generous kit levels.
That’s the Polo in a nutshell, but why the fuss surrounding the Bluemotion variant? With these so-called small cars now bigger and more capable than ever before, running one as your only means of transport without fear of compromise is a realistic proposition. You might even be tempted to rack up the miles, and if that’s the case you’ll need something frugal and inexpensive to run.
How does 80.7mpg sound? Equally, with a 91g/km CO2 rating Volkswagen’s Polo Bluemotion allows you to legitimately side-step paying road tax. And all this is without any expensive or bulky hybrid trickery, just a modest capacity diesel motor and tastefully subtle exterior aero kit to help further streamline the regular Polo shape.
Volkswagen is no stranger to diesel engines, and the Polo Bluemotion 1.2-litre, three-cylinder unit is a little 75 horsepower gem. Turbocharged and boasting the now expected combination of engine stop-start and brake energy regeneration features, the compact oil burner is surprisingly refined for something boasting three, not the usual four cylinders.
It’s also an impressively willing and flexible unit. Sure, the car’s long gearing means economy is the priority, but the engine’s abundant torque allows you to easily potter around in a high gear and experience a big-car sized dollop of acceleration when the mood takes you. In fact, the Polo Bluemotion’s ability to easily maintain a relaxed motorway cruising pace puts it head and shoulders above most rivals.
Feeling every bit like a three-quarter scale Golf on the inside, racking up those miles certainly won’t feel like a chore. You can hear the Polo’s diesel motor but it’s never intrusive, while on the road refinement is first rate. There are few cars in this class that boast such a refined cabin ambience as the Polo, and it would be no hardship to have the compact Volkswagen as the only car on your drive.
Easily capable of accommodating four adults in relative comfort, the Polo is as practical as it is refined. There’s even the choice between three and five doors. It’s also a well-equipped car; Volkswagen hasn’t skimped on the kit, with air-con, a leather-covered steering wheel, cruise control, four airbags and ESP all standard features.
Visually Volkswagen’s Polo Bluemotion is a modest-looking car, however in the real world its performance is anything but. With its maker’s familiar attention to detail, every inch of this refined and supremely competent supermini has been tuned to deliver genuine fuel and financial savings.
What’s most impressive, though, is the way this particular Polo goes about its business. Without any hint of a compromise you get hybrid-like economy plus a more flexible cross-country ability than your average petrol-electric alternative. If you want a frugal car capable of taking you across town one day and cross-country the next, Volkswagen’s Polo Bluemotion is hard to beat.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion 1.2 TDI 5dr, from £15,045 on the road. Polo Bluemotion range from £14,445.
Engine: 1.2-litre diesel unit developing 75bhp.
Transmission: 5-speed manual transmission as standard, driving the front wheels.
Performance: Maximum speed 107mph, 0-62mph 13.9 seconds.
CO2 Rating: 91g/km.
By Iain Dooley