Michael, my son-in-law, is a bit of a joker. One day he announced his optician had told him he was colour blind. “That was a bolt from the green” said the bold Michael.
I laughed – a little – but it did make me think about how important the identification of colour is in the world of motoring. Apart from its obvious advantage at traffic lights, colour also plays a huge role in our choice of what we drive. I visited a company’s offices a wee while ago and along one corridor was a line-up of aerial photographs of the place to show how it had expanded.
What I found more interesting, though, was the staff car park. Yes, it had grown too, but what was most noticeable was the changing appearance every couple of years. In the 1980s there was a range of colours among the cars parked there, some blues, reds, greens and a few other subtle and gentle tones. By the 1990s, it had gone largely white and into the new millennium, silver was the over-riding look.
The most recent picture perhaps reflected the state of the economy. As we struggled with recession, the car park was decidedly dark with black, charcoal, brown and navy blue predominant.
What’s actually happening though, beneath the changing paintwork, is that we’re all going green – looking for increased economy and reduced emissions. Unless you are thinking of buying a new super-efficient Volkswagen, in which case you’ll be going blue. Unlike its VAG group partner company Skoda, which has a clean “GreenLine” range, VW calls its low-emission and economical version BlueMotion.
It’s not a medical condition that would require immediate attention, rather it refers to VW’s corporate colour of blue which you’ll see behind the iconic symbol on their cars and ‘motion’ for mobility. Simple really.
Whatever you think of the idea, the latest version to carry the name is a remarkable piece of kit. More than 30 million Golfs have now been built but the new seventh-generation Golf BlueMotion, which will be taking to British roads in August, is the most fuel-efficient ever with a claimed consumption figure of more than 88 miles out of every expensive gallon of diesel. It has a theoretical range of 970 miles from the 50-litre fuel tank and some brainiac has worked out that someone driving the average annual mileage of 10,000 miles will have to refuel only ten times a year – or once every nine days if they put in only £17 worth at a time – and their annual fuel bill will be only around £700 for the whole year. Emissions are 85 g/km so there’s no vehicle excise duty either.
It rightly claims to be one of the world’s most fuel-efficient family cars and figures like these make the whole debate about the future lying with electric cars close to irrelevant.
That’s even more obvious when you drive this slimline specimen. Even with three grown men on board, there was a stack of space inside the cabin and no lack of performance from the 1.6 litre 110PS diesel engine which has plenty of guts and does the job with quiet efficiency.
It uses all sorts of technical wizardry to achieve the remarkable economy, such as low-resistance tyres, longer gear ratios, stop/start, battery regeneration, advanced aerodynamics with underfloor panels, exhaust gas recirculation and two-stage oil pump. Build quality, as you’d expect, is superb, the controls and instrument displays are clear and easy to use. The price tag is attractive and with an estate version available later in the year, it’ll appeal to a wide range of family buyers. The whole feel of this car is clean, efficient and green – or blue.
CAR VW Golf 1.6 litre TDI 3dr BlueMotion
PERFORMANCE Max speed 124 mph; 0-62 mph 10.5secs
MPG (combined) 88mpg