DR saves the planet. Sort of.

volkswagen_polo_bluemotion_concept[1]

Bespoke tyres, lightweight alloys, trick aerodynamics, optimised gear ratios and a variable geometry turbo. No, this isn’t a run-down of technical highlights from a new, driver-focussed sports car; rather it’s a list of some of the juicier aspects of VW’s Polo Blue Motion, one of the most frugal and, as I’ve recently discovered, most entertaining cars you can buy.

Until this week the joys of the Blue Motion had passed me by, yet over the course of the last seven days I’ve derived as much pleasure from maximising my mpg figures in this unassuming 80bhp supermini as I have minimising my lap times in a 300bhp Ariel Atom at Anglesey’s Ty Croes circuit.

In these dark days when you regularly wave goodbye to £50 with every visit to the forecourt, the rosy sense of satisfaction gained from driving a car that can comfortably cover 600-miles without needing to stop for fuel is immense. Less expected was the way the Polo made me analyse my driving to an almost forensic level of detail in an effort to identify areas of improvement. Lewis Hamilton spends less time in a post-qualifying debrief.

It’s a tremendously addictive discipline, and one that – bizarrely – seems to share many parallels with race driving. Where speed comes from smoothness and accuracy on a racetrack, so economy comes from a similarly precise and single-minded style on the road. Short-shift through the gears to build speed with torque rather than top-end power, scribe the sweetest line through a series of corners, judge traffic to perfection, preserve momentum at all costs. Every journey is a battle, every mile an opportunity to eek out a bit more from each precious litre of diesel.

Let your concentration slip or let yourself get sucked into some meaningless tussle for supremacy at the traffic lights and your punishment is immediate and painfully graphic: the fleeting euphoria at seeing 68mpg turning to desperation as the readout plummets to a shameful 61.2mpg.

My last drive in the Polo Blue Motion was the best: a sublime combination of a blatant disregard for speed limits (I never exceeded one at any stage in the journey) and some world-class slipstreaming behind a milk tanker that saw me break the elusive 70mpg average for the 25-mile commute from home to DR HQ. I’m sure NASCAR-style bump drafting would have yielded another 0.5mpg, but I reckoned that to be a bit extreme. But only a bit.

Living with the Polo brought two things home to me: The first is that I’m not about to spurn my love wantonly burning fossil fuels in a really fast car just yet. The second, unlikely though it may sound, is that deploying every driving skill you possess in an effort to average 70mpg on your way to work can be just as entertaining trying to average 70mph on a deserted country road. While we may not know what the future holds for the car, it’s clear that so long as getting the best from even the most frugal car requires thought, skill and effort, driving will remain our collective obsession for many years to come.

  • Apex Twin

    I can imagine the collective “huh?” floating above the ivory towers of BRAKE and T2000 if they read that 🙂

    Garnering pleasure from driving, whilst achieving mpg figures a Pious could only dream of would really boil their hemp-scented pee.

  • Apex Twin

    I can imagine the collective “huh?” floating above the ivory towers of BRAKE and T2000 if they read that 🙂

    Garnering pleasure from driving, whilst achieving mpg figures a Pious could only dream of would really boil their hemp-scented pee.

  • Pierre Desjardins

    Welcome to a new motorsport : fuel economy. I have been experiencing it myself for a few years and it is even more rewarding in a car which wasn’t made for this exercise. Last year, I I had a Mazda 3 MPS to go to the Geneva motorshow from Paris, I proudly managed nearly 40mpg and it made those so long and boring highways more entertaining.

    You just forgot something I loved about the Polo Blue Motion : the noise. Not the awful clattering when the engine is cold of course, mais the sound it makes when you give some throttle : there is some Porsche in here ! Half of it actually, thanks to those 3 cylinders. Just don’t beat me to death, please.

  • Pierre Desjardins

    Welcome to a new motorsport : fuel economy. I have been experiencing it myself for a few years and it is even more rewarding in a car which wasn’t made for this exercise. Last year, I I had a Mazda 3 MPS to go to the Geneva motorshow from Paris, I proudly managed nearly 40mpg and it made those so long and boring highways more entertaining.

    You just forgot something I loved about the Polo Blue Motion : the noise. Not the awful clattering when the engine is cold of course, mais the sound it makes when you give some throttle : there is some Porsche in here ! Half of it actually, thanks to those 3 cylinders. Just don’t beat me to death, please.

  • We have been driving VW’s Polo Blue Motion thanks to Angus Fitton, Nicki Collett and rest of Volkswagen’s PR team, who offered to provide a sample of their range which they thought would be of ‘interest’ to us. I will admit to being a little sceptical when I saw the Polo on the list, but as Richard has already said, there is more to it than meets the eye. Nevertheless, we became increasingly concerned about Dickie’s almost singular focus on frugality. He’s better now – 24 hours lapping the Nurburgring in a 420 bhp Aston should have reignited his passion for speed.

    It would be easy for us though to champion the most virile and exuberant of drivers cars, but that’s a well trodden path, and we believe driving is more about extracting enjoyment from whatever set of wheels we happen to find ourselves in.

    The next model supplied to us in our VW smorgasbord is the Golf GT Sport, with its 170PS, 350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel lump. Yet again a pleasant surprise. Up until earlier this year I owned one of AMG’s 6.2 litre beasts, and I’d swear that at motorway speeds this GT Sport initially picks up in 6th gear with as much shove as my 511bhp V8. Best surprise is that we’re ‘averaging’ 48mpg when driven enthusiastically. We’ll definitively be sorry to see this one depart when it is replaced by a Tiguan tomorrow.

  • We have been driving VW’s Polo Blue Motion thanks to Angus Fitton, Nicki Collett and rest of Volkswagen’s PR team, who offered to provide a sample of their range which they thought would be of ‘interest’ to us. I will admit to being a little sceptical when I saw the Polo on the list, but as Richard has already said, there is more to it than meets the eye. Nevertheless, we became increasingly concerned about Dickie’s almost singular focus on frugality. He’s better now – 24 hours lapping the Nurburgring in a 420 bhp Aston should have reignited his passion for speed.

    It would be easy for us though to champion the most virile and exuberant of drivers cars, but that’s a well trodden path, and we believe driving is more about extracting enjoyment from whatever set of wheels we happen to find ourselves in.

    The next model supplied to us in our VW smorgasbord is the Golf GT Sport, with its 170PS, 350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel lump. Yet again a pleasant surprise. Up until earlier this year I owned one of AMG’s 6.2 litre beasts, and I’d swear that at motorway speeds this GT Sport initially picks up in 6th gear with as much shove as my 511bhp V8. Best surprise is that we’re ‘averaging’ 48mpg when driven enthusiastically. We’ll definitively be sorry to see this one depart when it is replaced by a Tiguan tomorrow.

  • Impressive and a lesson for the majority, but not the best in regular mpg by a long way. The Honda Insight designed from the start as an mpg buster still holds the lead in the fuel stakes. Mine’s chugging round at over 100mpg at the moment on my day to day driving. Check mt Insight review at the link above. Regards Peter

  • Impressive and a lesson for the majority, but not the best in regular mpg by a long way. The Honda Insight designed from the start as an mpg buster still holds the lead in the fuel stakes. Mine’s chugging round at over 100mpg at the moment on my day to day driving. Check mt Insight review at the link above. Regards Peter

  • Nick

    The Polo bluemotion is an interesting attempt at the future of motoring.
    But it costs twelve thousand pounds.
    TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS ! ! !
    FOR A VW POLO !

    Madness.

  • Nick

    The Polo bluemotion is an interesting attempt at the future of motoring.
    But it costs twelve thousand pounds.
    TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS ! ! !
    FOR A VW POLO !

    Madness.

  • Ahhh, the MPG game. This became worryingly addictive recently on a mind-numbing journey through some 50mph speed restrictions on the M25. Suddenly lost its appeal when I nearly clattered into the back of an X5 because I was too busy looking at the ‘current MPG’ readout on the dash, willing it to hit an average 50 miles per-precious-gallon. Dangerous business this planet saving..

  • Ahhh, the MPG game. This became worryingly addictive recently on a mind-numbing journey through some 50mph speed restrictions on the M25. Suddenly lost its appeal when I nearly clattered into the back of an X5 because I was too busy looking at the ‘current MPG’ readout on the dash, willing it to hit an average 50 miles per-precious-gallon. Dangerous business this planet saving..

  • UA

    I had the same revelation a few years ago when I was running a Cayenne Turbo.

    The car’s fuel economy was so abysmal that the inital rush at breakneck acceleration for something so heavy shifted to a rush at eking out that extra .1l/100km from the beast.

    Traffic light GPs were replaced with almost instant shifting into sixth, and impressive damping became far more important that impressive dynamics.

    My record was 32l/100km – pretty abysmal, but alot better than that 42l/100km that had been my average consumption beforehand!

  • UA

    I had the same revelation a few years ago when I was running a Cayenne Turbo.

    The car’s fuel economy was so abysmal that the inital rush at breakneck acceleration for something so heavy shifted to a rush at eking out that extra .1l/100km from the beast.

    Traffic light GPs were replaced with almost instant shifting into sixth, and impressive damping became far more important that impressive dynamics.

    My record was 32l/100km – pretty abysmal, but alot better than that 42l/100km that had been my average consumption beforehand!