Hidden warning of fuel-efficient driving in the VW Polo V

The manual for the Polo V gives contradictory advice. On one hand, the driver shall avoid braking. On the other hand, he shall regularly brake strongly. To save fuel, the driver should use the brakes as little as possible according to the instructions. This is explained under “Driving with respect for the environment“:
Rolling to a stop
Taking your foot off the accelerator will interrupt the supply of fuel to the engine and decrease fuel consumption.

Therefore, in situations such as approaching a red traffic light, let the vehicle roll without applying the accelerator. Only press on the clutch pedal to disengage if the vehicle becomes too slow or if the stopping distance is longer. The engine will then run at idling speed.

Switch off the engine in situations when the vehicle might be stationary for a long time, e.g. at a level crossing. In vehicles with an active start/stop system, the engine will switch off automatically when the vehicle is stationary.

Thinking ahead when driving, and driving with the flow of traffic
Applying the brake and accelerator too often will significantly increase fuel consumption. By thinking ahead when driving and by maintaining a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front, simply keeping your foot off the accelerator will stop the speed from fluctuating. This means that active braking and accelerating is not always necessary.

Driving smoothly and evenly
Smoothness is even more important than speed. The more evenly you drive, the lower your fuel consumption will be.

When driving on a motorway, it is much more effective to drive at a constant moderate speed than to drive with constant acceleration and braking. As a rule, driving with a constant style will get you to your destination just as quickly. […]

By adopting an economical driving style and anticipating the traffic situation ahead, you can easily reduce fuel consumption by 10-15%.

Cars use most fuel when accelerating. If you think ahead when driving, you will need to brake less and thus accelerate less. Wherever possible, let the car roll slowly to a stop, for instance when you can see that the next traffic lights are red.“

These advice can be summarized: avoid usage of brakes. Elsewhere, however, VW gives a contrary advice, namely to regularly brake heavily. In the section “Information about the brakes” VW writes:

Corrosion on the brake discs and dirt in the brake pads are facilitated through long periods of inactivity, low mileage and low load levels. If the brake pads have been hardly used, or if they are at all corroded, Volkswagen recommends that the brake discs and brake pads be cleaned by braking strongly several times from high speed. Ensure that no vehicle behind you or no other road user is put at risk as a result of this action“

A reasonable synthesis of the two opposing advices may be: drive only on very long journeys fuel-efficient, and only in the middle part of these very long routes. (It is speculation that this could be meant, VW has not provided useful information in this regard)

Or one could conclude: the VW Polo V is not suitable for fuel-efficient driving style (this interpretation is a speculation as well)

Since the two opposing pieces of advice are located in separate places (“Driving with respect for the environment” respectively “Information on the brakes“), there is no reason to assume that a reader would always consider both pieces of advice together.

The section “Driving with respect for the environment” even contains an explicit safety warning. This reads: “Adapt your speed and distance from the vehicles ahead to suit visibility, weather, road and traffic conditions.” The reader of this section has really no reason to believe that further, unmentioned safety risks threaten if he complies with its recommendations.

Especially the Polo V Bluemotion was advertised by VW as a particularly fuel-efficient model. It seems shaped to buyers who care about fuel-efficient driving. One would expect that VW has therefore just checked the Polo V Bluemotion to be well suited for fuel-efficient driving. But in reality, fuel-efficient driving does not seem to be a focus of volkswagen.

(The date associated with this entry is Mai 2014. This corresponds to the date mentioned in the introduction of the operating instructions.) The instructions were retrieved on 07.01.2019 from https://www.volkswagen.co.uk/owners/manuals/ with the VIN WVWZZZ6RZFY062864)

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