Star car: Volkswagen Polo - Bluemotion 2
Unless a rival manufacturer has a secret ultra-green model waiting in the wings, VW will have the lowest CO2 fossil-fuel car on sale in the UK when the Polo Bluemotion 2 arrives next year. Its figure of 87g/km beats even the two-seater Smart Fortwo diesel and the hybrid Toyota Prius. For buyers, that means a potential fuel economy of around 85mpg.
At its heart is a new 74bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre TDI turbodiesel engine linked to a stop-start system when driving in traffic and a gearbox with higher-than-normal ratios to cut engine revs when cruising. In addition the car has revised aerodynamics – including a ride height lowered by 15mm – and low-rolling-resistance tyres to reduce frictional losses, and it channels braking energy back into the car's electrical system.
It's just the start of a concerted attack by VW on the emissions of its entire range under the recently created Bluemotion Technologies umbrella. A Passat that pumps out less than 110g/km of CO2 and a Golf emitting less than 100g/km have both been promised.
Looking further ahead, the VW Group is working on a new flexible small-car platform and new power systems that will allow the next Lupo and the Polo Mark VI, as well as future small Seats and Skodas, to have even better CO2 and fuel consumption figures.
The target? Well, about 10 years ago VW did have a Lupo that was capable of more than 94mpg with CO2 emissions of 81g/km, though it never came to the UK. VW will surely be aiming to beat that as quickly as it can.