When choosing a car you’re often presented with a list of options longer than the Great Wall of China. You might think your choice becomes easier if you know what make and model you want but, even here, there are usually a myriad of versions, trims and engines to navigate.
One such phrase used in Volkswagen’s catalogue is ‘BlueMotion’. This refers to a variety of technologies, all of which are fitted with the aim of reducing fuel consumption. To complicate matters – many of VW’s engines are badged ‘BlueMotion technology’ but only a handful are considered true ‘BlueMotion’ models.
Despite only two models being counted as BlueMotion, many of VW’s engines get BlueMotion technologies (sometimes called BMT). These units typically feature four modifications to make them more efficient than they otherwise would be.
The first is stop/start that detects when the car has come to a halt and stops the engine, then a separate motor or an uprated starter motor restarts the engine the second the clutch is pressed. This has the effect of reducing idling costs in traffic but also makes the car a more peaceful place to sit in at traffic lights.
The next is an energy recuperation system. This is less advanced than the systems usually employed in hybrids but, at the same time, it’s much cheaper to fit. The alternator (the part that charges the battery from the engine) increases its output during braking and reduces it when accelerating to recover lost energy and reduce strain on the engine.
Low rolling resistance tyres join the roster. These take less energy to start turning and use less energy during constant motion. This has the effect of reducing fuel use when pulling off and cruising. The difficulty, which VW insists it’s overcome, is making low rolling resistance tyres suitably grippy for modern motorway speeds.
Finally, cars with BlueMotion technology engines get slight aerodynamic modifications such as smaller panel gaps, lower ride heights and reprofiled bodystyles to ensure air travels smoothly around the car. This reduces fuel consumption but also lowers the levels of wind noise in the cabin, improving refinement.
VW Up BlueMotion Technology – it makes a (small) difference
The addition of BlueMotion Technology to VW’s smallest car – the Up – brings the car’s CO2 emissions down to 98g/km. Because this is under the government’s 100g/km cut-off for free road tax, a BlueMotion Technology Up is free from road tax – saving £20 per year over non-BMT Up models, which emit around 105g/km.
True BlueMotion models
There are currently only two true BlueMotion models in the VW range – the Golf BlueMotion and the Polo BlueMotion. Interestingly, despite both being the most efficiency-driven models in the range, the Polo is petrol and the Golf is diesel. Both get extra refinements to their designs to further reduce their fuel consumption.
The Golf features the 1.6-litre diesel used elsewhere in the range but with a few choice improvements. It gets a six-speed manual gearbox instead of the usual five and those gears are longer, too, to help the engine turn slower. The engine’s software has been rewritten to squeeze the most efficiency out of the fuel and the diesel particulate filter in the exhaust has been optimised. For an extra £1,215 over a standard Golf, you can achieve up to 88.3mpg and pay nothing in road tax.
|Measure||Golf 1.6 TDI 105 S||Golf 1.6 TDI 110 BlueMotion|
|Torque||185lb ft||184lb ft (-1hp)|
|Acceleration||10.7 seconds||10.5 seconds (-0.2 seconds)|
|Top speed||119||124 (+5mph)|
|CO2||99g/km (free road tax)||85g/km (free road tax)|
|Towing weight||1,500kg||1,000kg (-500kg)|
Where the Golf drank from the black pump, the Polo uses petrol power. The manufacturer’s new 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit benefits from VW’s experience in turbocharging and direct fuel injection to ensure the optimum combustion of fuel. The decision to fit this engine will also have been informed by the fact it’s very lightweight – weight blunts everything from efficiency to acceleration and handling so a lighter engine has advantages across the board.
|Measure||Polo 1.2 TSI 90 SE||Polo 1.0 TSI 95 BlueMotion|
|Torque||118lb ft||118lb ft|
|Acceleration||10.8 seconds||10.5 seconds (-0.3 seconds)|
|Top speed||114mph||119mph (+5mph)|
|Fuel efficiency||60.1mpg||68.9mpg (+8.8mpg)|
|CO2||107g/km (£20 in 2015)||94g/km (free road tax)|
To BlueMotion or not to BlueMotion?
If you calculate the yearly fuel costs based on the UK average of 12,000 miles per year you can work out whether it’s worth paying the extra for a true BlueMotion model. Over the course of the year, a Golf BlueMotion will use 135.9 gallons of fuel at a cost of £733.86 – the equivalent non-BlueMotion Golf uses 161.5 gallons at a cost of £872.14.
This means it would take nearly nine years to recover the added cost of the BlueMotion. It’s a similar story with the Polo – the BlueMotion model uses 174.2 gallons of fuel annually costing £896.95 and the non-BlueMotion model uses 199.7 gallons at a cost of £1,028.29. To recover the extra costs of the Polo BlueMotion you’d have to own it for over seven-and-a-half years.
So, on the face of things, BlueMotion doesn’t seem worth the extra cost. It’s worth remembering, however, this calculation is only based on an average driver. Those who cover very high milages annually will find they recover this money much faster and the odd bit of added standard equipment goes some way to sweeten the deal.
Go green with BlueMotion
For more information, have a look at our exposé of UK fuel prices, then take a look at reviews of our most popular Volkswagens – the Golf hatchback, the Polo supermini and the Tiguan SUV. Head over to our car configurator to see how much you could save on one of these cars or, for more options, take a look at our deals page to see our latest discounts.