Compromise ruins cars. Whether it’s giving the electric BMW i3 a three-cylinder engine to boost range or having the luxury of sat nav and air-conditioning in a Porsche GT3, compromise undermines a vehicle’s mission statement. But what about when the mission statement is to compromise?
The Volkswagen Polo BlueGT aims to combine hot hatch pace with sky-high fuel economy, or in the context of VW: ‘GTI’ to drive but ‘BlueMotion’ to run. It’s a bit of a curio, but that doesn’t mean it deserves to be.
Although the Golf VII now comes with cylinder deactivation, the BlueGT was the first VW to have it (it’s the same 1.4-litre unit), and between 1,250 and 4,000 rpm the BlueGT is propelled by two of its four cylinders until reasonable acceleration is called for. The result is a surprisingly decent turn of pace when the 138bhp 1.4-litre TSI is on song in a car than can (almost) rub shoulders with the pious Polo Bluemotion the rest of the time.
Around London the BlueGT spent most of the time using its impressive amount of torque from two cylinders, ultimately returning nearly 50mpg over 100 juddering city miles. Stop/start helps in this environment but doesn’t make for such impressive fuel economy alone.
VW says carbon dioxide emissions are 107g/km while combined economy is 60.1mpg (62.7mpg with the DSG gearbox). With these figures in mind, when you open throttle it becomes apparent how clever VW’s cylinder deactivation must really be. Performance like that suggests emissions far higher than what they are. Whilst fuel is only injected into two cylinders – essentially giving the Polo a 700cc engine, smaller than Fiat’s TwinAir – the remaining two continue to operate. Transition between two and four cylinders is as fast as it is smooth. The best thing about VW’s cylinder deactivation technology is that, despite offering massive improvements in fuel consumption, it costs relatively little to implement.
The BlueGT also looks how you imagine Walter de Silva and the Polo design team would have originally wanted. Concept cars always sit low with very big wheels, and whilst the BlueGT is clearly a production car, 17-inch multi-spoke wheels and a ride height generously lowered by 15mm make it stand out. In the sterile world of corporate Volkswagen, the Polo BlueGT is properly – as de Silva probably didn’t put it - ‘stanced’. The colour – Blue Silk – is also one of VW’s finest, particularly against the car’s gloss black trimmings. Overall the BlueGT’s aesthetic is focused but subtle – perfectly judged.
Ultimately the BlueGT is closer to the Polo BlueMotion’s carbon dioxide emissions figure of 91g/km that it is to the GTI’s 0-60mph time of 6.9 seconds. What makes it a great car is the ease of which huge economy figures can be achieved given the car’s point-and-squirt nature. It’s a genuine eco-hot-hatch, perfectly compromised.
Engine: 1.4 turbo petrol with ACT Power: 138bhp Torque: 185lb ft 0-60mph: 7.9 seconds Top speed: 130mph Fuel economy: 61.4mpg combined Emissions: 107g/km CO2 Price: From £17,400
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