Passat BlueMotion Estate: first drive

  • Economical diesel engine achieved 78mpg on our test
  • Comfortable, roomy, quality interior
  • £850 more than 2.0-litre diesel, prices start at £20,995

There is a certain amount of skepticisim attached to so-called 'eco' models: in the past they have been regarded as one-trick ponies that, although frugal and efficient, are quite awful to drive.

However, Volkswagen has stopped the rot with its latest family of BlueMotion models: the Golf and Polo have mixed driveability and comfort with excellent fuel economy.

The Passat BlueMotion Estate is the last link the chain and it has all of VW's fuel saving technologies: stop/start (which shuts the engine down when you are stationary), low rolling resistance tyres, better aeros, lower ride-height, optimum gear-change indicator. It also uses low-viscosity oil to reduce friction in the engine. All this means an efficiency that delivers an official combined fuel consumption of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km. The low CO2 also means a low BIK company car tax band rating of 13%.

On the road the Estate is reasonable to drive although the 1-.6-litre 104bhp turbodiesel engine isn't what you'd call quick. It accelerates from 0-60mph in 12.7 seconds and it'll go on to a top speed of 118mph. It's got enough low-down pull to make overtaking manoeuvres fairly stress-free but you'll need to drop a gear to get past slower cars.

The seats are fantastic, road noise is almost zero, and the simple cruise control system makes breezing along at speed a simple, relaxed experience.

The trim level inside isn't as flashy as some cars, but it's very well put together and works effectively. Everything is where it needs to be, and for a car in this price range it's actually quite refreshing to see such quality when you're behind the wheel.

The on-board computer screen on the dash keeps you updated with useful information such as how many miles the car has left, and in which direction you're travelling.

As you'd expect from an estate, there's masses of space for storage and enough room to comfortably seat four adults.

So just how economical is the Passat Bluemotion? Well, after 600 miles the needle on the fuel gauge had just nudged past half way. Taking into account the 70-litre fuel tank, a spot of maths gives us nearly 78mpg since the last fill-up.

So what's not to like? Well, at £20,995 it's £850 more than the standard 2.0-litre diesel Passat which is better to drive. Like many other manufacturers that produce 'eco' specials VW hasn't learned that going 'green's should not come at a premium. The fact is you'll have to cover many miles before the BlueMotion starts to pay off. 



Also consider

Ford Mondeo Estate 1.8 TDCi ECOnetic 5d

Good to drive, but at £22,622 it represents a more pricier option.

Skoda Octavia Greenline Estate

More compact but it'll take four adults and all their stuff with ease. At £18,622 it's good value too.

Vauxhall Insignia EcoFlex ST

Faster (0-60mph in 9.6s), but more expensive and it burns more fuel and emits more CO2 than the others