+ Full technical specification Taking the high (mpg) road Polo BlueMotion to Scotland 800-mile Essex to Glen Coe road trip Everything Volkswagen Polo Issue 008 // December 2012 91g/km CO 2 ,74bhp, 133lb ft/180Nm 1 ECO SUPERMINI! + How the green tech works + Formel E: 1980s predecessor to BlueMotion

PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

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Just how achievable is the Polo BlueMotion's combined cycle 80.7mpg figure? We took it on an 800-mile trip to the Scottish Highlands to find out

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Page 1: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

+Fulltechnical specification

Takingthehigh(mpg)roadPolo BlueMotion to Scotland800-mile Essex to Glen Coe road trip

EverythingVolkswagenPoloIssue 008 //December 2012



133lb f t /1





+Howthegreen techworks

+FormelE:1980s predecessorto BlueMotion

Page 2: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

Takingthehigh(mpg)roadWith a quoted combined 80.7 miles per gallon figureand a 10-gallon fuel tank, Volkswagen’s latest Polo BlueMotion should have a claimed 800-mile range. We took it to the now Skyfall-famous Scottish Highlands and Glen Coeto find out just how achievable it really isWORDS //RICHGOODINGPICTURES // RICHGOODINGANDVOLKSWAGENUKPRESSOFFICE


Page 3: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion


Page 4: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion


Volkswagen’s current iteration of the Polo BlueMotion has been around for two years. Following the first‑generation car which was launched at the

Geneva motor show in 2008, the latest version once again takes the now‑standard BlueMotion formula of taller gearing, low rolling resistance tyres and an aerodynamic body kit to create an incredibly parsimonious supermini. Or at least that’s the idea. With a claimed combined miles per gallon figure of 80.7 and a 10‑gallon fuel tank, an 800‑mile range‑per‑tank figure should be achievable. But in the real world, just how easy is it?Our idea was as simple as the small Volkswagen’s

economy focus. To get to Scotland from Essex on one tank of fuel. Using motorways and A-roads for the majority of the route, we stood a fighting chance of covering the 516 miles from Chelmsford to Ballachulish on the southern edge of Loch Leven. Travelling through the flatlands of Essex and the Fens, hitting the hills in Yorkshire and finally spearing through the valleys of the Highlands would prove a varying workout for the car, in both terms of comfort and economy. Before we set off, the range indicator stated that there was only 495 miles of fuel in the 42-litre tank, so it looked pretty tight. Would we be able to feather the throttle enough to gain the extra 21 miles we needed?Far from being the cheapest car in the Polo range, the BlueMotion sits

in the middle of Volkswagen’s supermini family. With a price of £15,885, it sits between the popular Match and the luxurious SEL. Standard kit includes 15-inch ‘Greenland’ alloy wheels with 185/60 R15 tyres, tyre pressure indicator, remote central locking, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and semi-automatic air conditioning. A very useful and clear-sounding DAB radio unit is also now included as standard, all of which makes the 2012 Polo BlueMotion a step up from the fuel-saving Polo Formel E of the early 1980s (see panel, right).With an overnight stop in Darlington our goal, we brimmed the tank in Essex

and set off on our small economy marathon. Despite what press road tests report, the smallest Volkswagen BlueMotion model isn’t that noisy (it’s actually one of the quietest Polo variants), the three-cylinder engine growling nicely on accelerative bursts, settling to a muted buzz when cruising at legal speeds (2200rpm in fifth gear equates to 70mph). The eco Polo feels stable on the road, and though not the sharpest driving tool in the supermini class, the car’s

as enjoyable to drive as its less frugal siblings, with moderate amounts of both body roll and steering feel.After a very steady

six‑hour and 245‑mile jaunt straight up the A1, we arrived at our northern town overnight halt. Ready for a stop, but no

means uncomfortable or stressed, the Polo was every bit as enjoyable to drive as its non‑miserly‑minded brothers – there is certainly no hairshirt thriftiness here, as was often the case with economy cars of the past. The fuel range indicator reckoned we now (optimistically) had 300 miles of diesel left in the tank, more than enough to get us to Glen Coe. But, we’d only averaged 56.2mpg, some 24.5mpg short of Volkswagen’s official figure of 80.7mpg on the combined cycle. The weather on day two wasn’t

quite so kind, but we ploughed on regardless – we still had 271 miles to cover. Our route took in the A66 through both Barnard Castle and

FormelE:1980s BlueMotion

Volkswagen’sFormelEfueleconomysystemfirstappearedonaPolointhesummerof1981ontherun‑outSeries1PoloLX.Powered by a 1093cc

high‑compression/high‑torque engine, it needed an exclusive diet of four‑star petrol to develop its 49bhp/60lbs ft and had a wide‑ratio 3+E gearbox and fuel consumption and gearchange indicator. At a constant 56mph, the Polo LX Formel E achieved 55.4mpg, compared with 44.1mpg of the identically‑powered Polo GLS.

SECONDGENERATIONIn 1982, the second‑generation Polo C Formel E appeared, squeezing 58.9mpg out of its predecessor’s 1.1‑litre engine. This time, along with the other models in the Formel E range, there were aerodynamic improvements to the car’s body: plastic A‑pillar trim covers and flush‑fitting front quarterlight windows helped to make the car slip through the air more easily. A rear tailgate spoiler (similar in style to the latest Polo BlueMotion’s) was fitted to hatchback models, while a small lip spoiler adorned the boot of the Polo Saloon. A manual switchable ‘Stop‑Start’ system appeared on both. At the UK launch, the three‑door Polo CFormel E hatchback cost £3976.


Page 5: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

‘There is certainly no hairshirt thriftiness with the Polo BlueMotion, as was so often the case with economy cars of the past’


BlueMotion’s on-road manners are as refined as non-eco-minded Polos

Page 6: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

OneofthehighlightsofthePoloBlueMotion’seco‑mindedawarenessisitsintelligentStart/Stopsystem.It was the first time we’d had

to properly test the system, and we were very impressed with the seamlessness with which it worked. Once the driver is at a halt and changed into neutral gear and released the clutch, the engine shuts itself off, the combination dashboard display showing ‘Start/Stop Active’. Once the driver again depresses the clutch, the engine is restarted, the ‘Start/Stop Active’ disappears from the dashboard display, and the driver can select first gear and drive off. Combined with the dashboard display gearchange indicator, it’s a strong weapon in the Polo BlueMotion’s eco‑cannon.

Start/Stop:thethrifty tech

‘The Polo BlueMotion shines brightly as a no-sacrifice, high mpg-value car’

Page 7: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

Penrith, before we reached the M6 to Carlisle. Stopping for lunch just outside Glasgow in Abington on the M74, we had to make a decision. The fuel range indicator was now telling us we didn’t have enough fuel to get to Ballachulish. It was so close, the expected range only five miles or so shy of what distance the satellite navigation system was telling us we had to go. With another party travelling with us in a separate car and unaware of the location of filling stations north of Glasgow in the Glen Coe wilderness, we decided, against our better judgement, to brim the tank once more. With windy ribbons of roads – single track in places – making up the majority of the next part of our cross‑borders trip, we thought it churlish to risk it.Fuel replenished, we skirted around Glasgow, onto the picturesque shores

of Loch Lomond, taking the A82 across the barren and forbidding Rannoch Moor, before cutting through the valleys that dip in‑between the Glen Coe mountains, and onto the small settlement of Ballachulish, 15 miles south of Fort William. It had been an interesting trip. Though some way short of Volkswagen’s official mpg claims, we hadn’t driven the Polo BlueMotion hard, and had cruised at legal speeds. Disappointingly, our fill‑up had only been 400 miles after we started. We thought we’d set a typical varied route, similar to a combined

cycle. Our lowest fuel figure was 53mpg, which is still credible, if not groundbreaking, and more on a par with a ‘standard’ diesel supermini. Our highest tally over our week and 800 miles with the car was just over 70mpg, which does prove that higher figures can be achieved with a small modicum of effort. We’d have liked to have spent longer with J8 VWW, but we had a

technical glitch with the diesel particulate filter (see panel), which meant the car had to go back to VW. But, it didn’t dim our enjoyment of the car. The 2012 Polo BlueMotion takes the old fuel‑saving Volkswagen Formel E idea (see panel) and updates it for the 21st century – with a stylish twist. For us, it remains a firm favourite in the range, and shines brightly as a car with which achieving high fuel consumption figures needn’t mean sacrificing many (if any) modern car fripperies or trappings.

Theonethingcarsfittedwithadieselparticulatefilter(DPF)cansufferfromisabuild‑upofsoot.TheDPFfiltersoutsootparticlesfromtheexhaustgas,collectingthembeforeburningthemoff.This‘regeneration’hastobedoneathighspeedforashortperiodoftime,andVW,alongwithothermanufacturers,recommendsvarieddriving,avoidingmakingonlyshortjourneys.Ifthewarninglightshouldcomeinthecar(asJ8VWW’sdid),Volkswagenstatesthatthecarisdrivenforatleast15minutesinfourthgearataminimumof45mph.If the light doesn’t go out, the

vehicle should be taken to an approved workshop. J8 VWW’s warning lamp resolutely stayed alight after two attempts to clear the DPF. Worried about potential damage, we asked Volkswagen to take the car back to the press garage, where the company’s technicians got to work.As it turned out, there was no

problem with the DPF. After one regeneration which cleared the warning and a fault‑finding exercise, a faulty exhaust temperature sensor was found. A replacement made the car as good as new. Although it’s worth remembering the regeneration process, the driving that the majority of owners would carry out should automatically run the process.

DPF: regenerating process


Catalytic converter light also illuminated during our drive

BlueMotion aerodynamicbody kit lends the Polo

shape a sporty air

Page 8: PoloDriver.com road test: 2012 Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion

With special thanks to Nicki Finlayson

and the Volkswagen UK Press Office


Model VW Polo BlueMotionDisplacement(cc)/cylinders/fueltype1199/3/dieselPoweroutput74bhp @ 4200pmMaximumtorque 133lb ft/180Nm @ 2000rpmTransmission Front-wheel drive, five-speed manualTopspeed(mph) 1070‑62mph(seconds)13.9Officialfuelconsumption(mpg)Urban 67.3; extra urban 91.1; combined cycle 80.7Emissions(CO2,g/km) 91Brakingsystem Diagonal twin-circuit with discs (front) and drums (rear); ABS, Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution and Hydraulic Brake AssistRunninggear Independent with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers (front axle); semi-independent with gas shock absorbers and coil springs (rear axle)Steering Electro-mechnical steering rackWheels 5.5J x 15 ‘Greenland’ alloyTyres 185/60 R15Unladenweight(kg) 1150Track(front/rear,mm) 1463/1456Wheelbase(mm) 2468Dimensions(l,w,h,mm)3970/1901/1462Price £15,885 (five-door)