VW Diesel Passat BlueMotion Hits Almost 75 MPG

Ditch that gas-guzzling Prius.

Gavin Conway, a writer for the UK’s Sunday times, recently set out for a country drive.  Quite the drive, in fact: his drive ended up lasting three days, on a three-day trip that took him from Maidstone, Kent, to the south of France, and almost all of the way back, on one tank of diesel.

The car: the BlueMotion edition of the Volkswagen Passat.  The car Conway powered was the standard model, a 1.6-liter common rail TDI four-cylinder engine, which holds a 20.4 gallon tank for diesel.

Now Conway can brag that he’s in the Guinness World Book of Records for his 1,526.63 mile drive, apparently now the longest distance ever driven by a production passenger car on one tank of fuel.

Much of the Passat BlueMotion’s fuel efficiency is due to its design.  Rocker panel extensions, a deep front air-dam, and alloy wheels all contribute to decelerate fuel consumption, handily reducing CO2 emissions at the same time.  A low ride height, specially programmed battery charging system, low rolling resistance tires, and longer gearing all helped a tad with Conway’s record, too.

All told, the Passat BlueMotion achieved a 74.8 miles per gallon ratio for a drive that averaged about 45 miles per hour, and for a journey that is approximately the distance between Los Angeles and Kansas City, Missouri.  Followed by a couple patrolmen who Guinness hired to verify the veracity, the car finally ran out of juice near Calais, France, just before Conway was set to return under the English Channel.

With all the hype over hybrids and electric vehicles, outstanding engineering and design can still go a long way to improve automobiles’ fuel efficiency and reduce our dependence on imported foreign fuels.  Cars like the Prius and Leaf could and should be part of our transportation mix, but more cars like the Passat BlueMotion, some features of which will be included in other Volkswagen models, prove that a sweet MGP does not mean driving in something with all the charm and safety of a tin can.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

30 responses

  1. I’ve yet to see a study concluding that a Prius is less safe than a Passat. In fact, I think you’ll find that the Prius is one of the safest cars on the road… I suspect the same will be true of the Leaf. And don’t forget, most of these engineering innovations can be used on electric cars as easily as diesel cars.

    As for “charm”, I find the Prius to be possibly the most charming car on the road! I suppose that’s a subjective matter of taste, but you can’t argue that the Prius isn’t less noisy and thus less obtrusive to the sounds of nature around it.

  2. not to bash the new passat… but im assuming this 75mpg is imperial, which is only 62mpg in the US given the GB Imperial gallon is larger. just thought i would seek clarification before people start bashing vw down the road for having worse fuel economy on US diesels than UK ones.

    1. My wife and I had a ’96 Passat TDI that got 45 mpg day in and day out at 70 mph – even with the air on in the summer. VW has long ruled the diesel market, but Americans don’t care for them in automobiles for some reason.

  3. Sorry for the pic–it’s a Wikipedia shot–gotta be careful with copyright! Actually, it was a test to see if anyone noticed. Now I have to figure out what the prize is!

    Did I say a Prius was safer than a Passat?

    1. @BART SIMPSON: I think Leon meant charm and safety doesn’t need to be sacrificed to increase MPG in a non-hybrid car. E.g. removing all safety features will decrease the weight and therefore increase the fuel efficiency.

      Driving any Prius is definitely safer than driving a 300bhp Passat R36!

  4. Does anyone know why it’s so difficult to get a car like this in the United States? Is our diesel fuel different? If I went to Germany and bought this car and shipped it over would it be legal?

    1. California emission standards are different from EU, and limit certain kinds of particulate that is part of diesel exhaust. I explored this when trying to get the Mini Cooper diesel that gets about 72 MPG. Widely available in Europe, you can’t buy it here.

      Since California is the gorilla in the room when it comes to setting emission standards, importers want to meet the standards, and not create two different versions of a car.

      For more on energy, see:

      Jay Kimball
      8020 Vision

    2.  The U.S government does not want the blue motion diesel here! It would take away from the amount of tax they get per gallon. They want to keep the mpg lower, it means more dollars in their pockets. They are greedy useless bastards!

      1.  Actually the gov makes more money on diesel fuel because it’s taxed at a higher rate, but the oil companies would lose money if demand went down.

        1. What a self rejecting statement, the government makes more money when more gallons are consumed….
          Oh, yeah, the oil companies are providing a product. The government would lose money if demand went down, as they rip off the population with their confiscatory taxes.

  5. This isn’t a record for a passenger car just one for a production passenger car. There is a guy in Bellingham Washington that build a diesel car that got 119.1 mpg driving it from Canada to Mexico on one tank using 12.4 gallons. 1384 miles.

  6. This article raises more questions than it proports to answer. Without knowing any details, its seems to me that if VW had more than doubled the efficiency of its cars, it would be touting it itself all over the world, and there would be some scientific, peer reviewed paper out there explaining exactly how they did that. Most of the explanation here could not possibly result such dramatic change. I would like to know what the official tests of the vehicle show, and how they compare to other vehicles. With all due respect to journalists, I would rush out and buy a car based on this test.

  7. I celebrate any and all reports from reasonably priced, safe, commercially available vehicles that get > 60 mpg.
    If only American automakers could match the Nissan Leaf and VW Diesel Passat BlueMotion. Unless they come up with models in the next year that can compete, they are destined for the graveyard which would be another devastating blow to the US Economy. It is the train wreck thesis that some of my friends have that we need to bottom out before we can recover. I tell them we have already gone as low as we can go and still US Politicians are blind to steer us out of the high unemployment chasm we are in. I am living in the land of Idiocracy.

  8. This might be my next car. I bought a 2002 TDI Jetta and have no mechanical problems with it since – almost did 1000km on a tank (once!).

    I shipped my Jetta from Canada to France – where I drive it now. No issues whatsoever re: diesel.

  9. A diesel engine has much a longer TBO (time between overhaul)than a battery-powered Prius or Leaf, and gets more miles per gallon as well.

    Liberalism (and environmentalism) is a dangerous mental disorder…

  10. ya when global warming strikes your head you would be screaming for hybrid cars too. This car is the only one which gives such mpg as compared with cars of same specs and genre.

  11. Gee, my Bravo Sierra nose tells me someone has an agenda… first, fuel in the UK is sold in Liters and NOT in Gallons.  And as someone stated UK gallons are larger than U.S. gallons to boot.  Then, the car has a 20 gallon fuel tank..!  I suspect that would never fly here in the U.S. as most small cars have about half that size..   I also suspect with that large a fuel tank it would not get a 5 star safety rating in a crash test…   It is very difficult to compare a non-US spec vehicle to a US spec vehicle..    And at (a steady) 42 MPH most vehicles get a huge MPG boost Vs at 65 MPH.

  12. I suspect that a suggestion by a commentor that the U.S. Government blocking VW Passant sales in the US is because they’ll realize LESS tax revenue with higher milage cars is pure supposition and
    not based on documented evidence.  Much of the anti Obama rhetoric thrown around during this pre-election period is based on the same type of supposition mentality. 

     It certainly is a logical assumption, but  my information suggests that currently, besides the fuel/cash savings issue, environmental issues are equally important to the Government as regards future environmental GW issues…..but then ‘money’ is usually the common denominator when it comes to tough decisions. 

  13. Actually I read an article by an employee of VW America that telles how they build a 75 MPG Car here in the USA that is shipped to Central, South America, and Canada.
    Why not sell them here? They are as clean running as the cars here or better. Back in the 1980’s Mexico subsedized TAXI owners to buy clean running VW’s to cut pollution, and that is why you see so many Green and Yellow VW Beatles in Mexico City……

    1. Because how else are we to line the pockets of our politicians and continueto use an excuse like the green energy lobby to fund as well…. oil companies put a stop to it as well I am sure…..we are the country that does the most driving and its all nonsense…. less tax revenue less money to be made by all.

  14. They need to bring a vehicle to the US that allows 75+ MPG the reason they won’t do it is because of the emission standards here in this crap hat called a country. Lazyness is the US’s Middle Name. Too many senators lining their pockets with oil and riches to worry about the little guy. Too many big businesses wanting to push Foreign labor in this country to give a shit about anything but themselves. It’s about time for this country to have its revolt, but by the time you see this country getting its fat ass off the couch the war will have already ended.

Leave a Reply