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Monday 9th July 2012

Driven: Volkswagen Polo Blue GT

An eco hot hatch that isn't a diesel? Technology could still be the saviour of us all...



The Netherlands is famous for many things - including being very flat and full of straight roads. It's also where the Gatso calls home. Carmakers like to use it as a launch destination when they want us hacks to achieve decent economy on the trip computer. Or when the car is particularly gutless.


The Volkswagen Polo Blue GT certainly isn't Gutless. A brand new 140hp 1.4 TSI turbo petrol, the first of a new family of 'EA211' units, it delivers 184lb ft of torque from 1,500rpm to 3,500rpm. In a small car this means plenty of immediate action.

So what about the economy? Having spotted that 'Blue GT' sounds almost exactly like a cross between Bluemotion and GTI, you won't be surprised to learn that this is almost exactly what it is. Quite literally in parts, as it combines front and rear styling elements from the Polo GTI with Polo Bluemotion side skirts and aero-modified windscreen rain channels.

USP? More like ACT...
The cynical might suggest that a jack of all trades is a master of none, and it's true the Blue GT is neither as fast as the 180hp GTI (0-62mph in 7.9 seconds is a second slower) nor as green as the 80.7mpg Bluemotion (we'll come back to that). But the Blue GT does have a rather snazzy new feature under the bonnet - cylinder deactivation.


The system is called ACT, and it's a world-first on a four-cylinder (albeit one that's also coming to the Audi A1). Using a special pair of camshafts and four actuators it knocks out the middle two cylinders whenever the engine management deems them surplus to requirements. Which is to say any time between 1,400rpm and 4K when you're not really trying.

This means this car will cruise at 70mph on two cylinders.

Two cylinders good, four cylinders even better
Think about this; it's actually brilliant. That a hot hatch - well, warm hatch in this instance, but consider the potential - likes to chug the go-go juice is fine when you're going for it. But what this technology does is calm the consumption right down whenever you haven't got that opportunity.


Together with all the usual add-ons like start-stop and brake energy regeneration, the result is a claimed 61.4mpg for the six-speed manual and 62.7mpg for the optional seven-speed DSG. While you remain unlikely to achieve this exactly, the eagerness with which the Blue GT reverts to two cylinders suggests some real-world savings should be inevitable. If nothing else, CO2 ratings of 107g/km and 105g/km mean taxing either will currently cost you just £20 a year.

Best of all, ACT never impedes your enjoyment of the car's full potential. Switching cylinder modes happens within one-and-a-half turns of the camshafts (13-36 milliseconds), making it basically instantaneous. Modest acceleration is possible without engaging the full complement of pistons; ask for only the merest amount more, however, and the 1.4 comes fully to life without fuss.


Good car, but good value?
Like all the latest TSI Polos - including the 105hp 1.2 - it will try its absolute damnedest to give you satisfaction and to do a decent impression of something with rather more capacity. For the Blue GT, Volkswagen has even retuned the suspension, lowering it 15mm over a natty set of multispoke 17s.

If the outcome isn't the sharpest hatch we've ever driven, the compromise between compliance and bodyroll seems well judged, and the usual XDS electrickery finds stacks of grip. In typical VW fashion it's flattering, and fun, and utterly at home in a wide range of driving situations.

It'll cost you, though. Estimated entry price ahead of the on sale date in September is around £17,500 - that's more than a 180hp vRS Fabia. But no-one ever said it was cheap to be an early adopter...


VOLKSWAGEN POLO BLUE GT
Engine
: 1,395cc four-cylinder with cylinder deactivation, turbocharged
Power: 140hp @ 4,500 - 6,000rpm
Torque: 184lb ft @ 1,500 - 3,500rpm
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Top speed: 130mph
Weight: 1,212kg
MPG: 61.4mpg (manual), 62.7mpg (DSG)
CO2: 107g/km (manual), 105g/km (DSG)
Price: from £17,500 (official estimate)



 

cjhubbard
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Hellbound

Original Poster:

2,184 posts

56 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Great on paper, even if the final result doesn't pull on the heart strings.

£17.5k + options, £19k with DSG. You'll be crossing over into £20k territory without too much effort.

If only the M135i had cylinder deactivation. rolleyes

AlpineWhite

1,931 posts

75 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Looks like a nice solution to the economy / performance battle

Gorbyrev

652 posts

34 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Great - coming to a Skoda or Seat near you soon I guess!

timothymcn

23 posts

24 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
It actually looks fantastic.

BBS-LM

3,803 posts

104 months

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the-photographer

983 posts

56 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
There has been a thread in the Audi, VW, Seat & Skoda forum since it's announcement in March.

Autocar said "On a 60 mile motorway run out of Amsterdam we managed 76.4mpg"

So get this car on your company car/personal lease shortlist instead of another diesel.

For private/cash people wait for the cheaper variants (you'll also find it in the new A3/MK7 later in the year).

WillBrumBrum

586 posts

78 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
£17,500 for a VW Polo! Then again, the original RRP of the original 80mpg 2000 Honda Insight was £16,995 so maybe the Polo is worth the money in the long run too.

Krikkit

4,866 posts

61 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Sounds bloody good to me - not my bag, but a good buy nonetheless. Hopefully the tech will wind out to other cars in the range too - 200hp Polo with this tech would be most welcome. biggrin

philmots

3,075 posts

140 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Sounds good.

Only thing... it seems real complex, and running one without warranty at 5yrs old with 60k miles would worry me. Comprehensive manufacturer extended warranties IMO will become a must.

veevee

1,129 posts

31 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
sounds very good.

but..

20 grand+ for a polo? wasn't long ago they were £8,995!

the-photographer

983 posts

56 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
To be fair the basic ones start at £10,000

GreatCornholio

1,473 posts

53 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Price aside (leasehire special of the near future, surely?) this must be WIN WIN??

cure

188 posts

25 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
BBS-LM said:
I would have thought they would put the exhaust valves in constant open stance while deactivated. Thus eliminating the compression which would surely give the 2 remaining cylinders less to work for. However, I then thought about how the turbine would be messed up with 2 cylinders sucking air from it..

Darren61

71 posts

36 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
I think this will be a hit, people generally are sick of fuel prices but don't want to sacrifice the thrills of motoring. Therefore, economy and the option to have a spirited drive in a comfy, refined, quality package is a great option.

When will they develop an engine that can run on a thimble of fuel?

Galsia

1,360 posts

70 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
I wonder how much quicker this will be once the remaps come out? Might be on to a winner...

Negative Creep

12,304 posts

107 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Gorbyrev said:
Great - coming to a Skoda or Seat for a few thousand pounds less near you soon I guess!
EFA

Checkmate

318 posts

87 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
cure said:
I would have thought they would put the exhaust valves in constant open stance while deactivated. Thus eliminating the compression which would surely give the 2 remaining cylinders less to work for. However, I then thought about how the turbine would be messed up with 2 cylinders sucking air from it..
Open the inlet valves on the induction stroke, open the exhaust valves on the compression stroke, open inlets on power stroke, exhausts open as usual on exhaust stroke. Should actually improve turbo response.

MrTappets

786 posts

71 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
SO it's as economical as a small diesel but it's a warm hatch? Sounds good to me. Think I'll be back in a year's time to peruse the classifieds.

BeirutTaxi

5,473 posts

94 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
"Hot Hatch"? Absolubtley not. I've been out in a diesel Ibiza FR with 130bhp and a Leon also with 130bhp and although they we're brisk-ish.. both definitley did not have the feel of what I expect from a hot hatch.

I know some may argue that the Polo is faster than the original Golf GTI, but I argue that more modern cars don't feel as fast because of both their refinement and weight.

Although I obviously haven't been out in this new Polo, so perhaps quite an unfounded comment/post etc.

Edited to add: Just re-read the artical and saw the "warm" bit. Oops!

Edited by BeirutTaxi on Monday 9th July 21:29

V8 FOU

1,067 posts

27 months

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Monday 9th July 2012 quote quote all
Sorry, but a Polo. Small hatch,yes? 1250kg????? What's it made of, lead? Not so long ago a Polo weighed around 900kg.
Very strange.....

How about weight de-activation?
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