July 26, 2014

Sweet BlueMotion

The Aerosmith song starts "You talk about things and nobody cares / You're wearing out things that nobody wears".

Well, have I been driving a thing that nobody drives. Nobody in the US, that is. I'll talk about it, too, and I don't care that you don't care. But you should care.

I've been driving a rented Golf for a week. Except that the steering wheel is on the right side of the car (more on that in another post), it's just the same as our Golf. Same sturdy seating, not overstuffed. Same ample trunk that easily fits our luggage with room to spare. Same easy handling.

However, under the hood it's a little different: it has the 1.6L diesel engine that is not for sale in the US (where the smallest engine is the 2.0L TDI). This rental car was augmented by Volkswagen's "BlueMotion" suite of technologies that boost the fuel efficiency.

I confess freely: I was lousy at hypermiling this car. The whole first day, while adjusting to the left hand drive, I drove it in lower gear than really necessary. I took it up steeper hills than at home. I threaded it through narrow roads where anything over 20mph was reckless. And one glorious coastal stretch that was actually just 0.9 lanes wide, with the rear view mirrors brushing the hedgerows on either side; I was in first gear for most of that. On the whole, not exactly hypermiling.

After about a week we filled the tank before returning it, with 29.7L of diesel, or 7.85 US gallons. We had covered 420 miles. Assuming that the previous driver had topped it off similarly, that comes to 53 mpg out of this 1.6L TDI BlueMotion Golf.

No hypermiling. No hybrid drive.

Exultation is a sweet emotion. Wish I could have bought this one in the US. Our 2.0L TDI only does 38 mpg. And is more expensive than the frugal BlueMotion version.



You may also like:
1. My car: 2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI
2. Why are cars so small outside the US?



  1. Maybe ask them why it is not for sale in the U.S.?

    1. I have. Dealers will mumble responses like, "Those engines aren't approved for the US emissions ruels" (largely the same as the European ones), or "Americans _like_ horsepower" (most cars sold in the US have 3-4 times more power than you need to cruise the nation's highways).

      My own take is that large cars with large engines have much larger profit margins than small cars with frugal engines. In the absence of a government push, that's where car sellers will gravitate. That, and cars with new (and expensive) technology, like hybrids and EVs.

    2. Well, Americans DO like horsepower, but ... not all of us. I drove VW Beetles for maybe 30 years, and then Honda Civics, because I was interested in low-cost transportation. I agree, your analysis makes sense. That, IMHO, is how the Big 3 drove themselves into the ditch--by spending hundreds of millions advertising power and flash and then telling regulators and politicians that no one was interested in durable cars.

    3. Ah but: _why_ do Americans like horsepower? -- I say it's because they have been taught, through a careful decades-long advertising campaign. Even the reluctant ones (like moms) have been sold a love for horsepower on the grounds of safety.
      (Call me cynical).

  2. We have a VW with blue motion same engine size which we can get that kind of mpg out of but ours is a Caddy Maxi Life. That mpg sounds quite low for a golf?

    1. Oh sorry, all mpg numbers in this blog are miles per US gallon. So yes, the number of miles per _imperial_ gallon would be higher, by 20 percent.


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