Volkswagen has taken a bit of a step ahead of its main rivals with the introduction of the Bluemotion version of the latest Passat.

Available in saloon form or the estate driven here, the Bluemotion model shaves 10g/km off the emissions figure of the regular 1.6-litre TDI model through a variety of measures, including modifying the 120hp engine, adding what the brand calls super-optimised low rolling-resistance tyres and dropping the car by 15mm thanks to a sports suspension.

Based on the entry-level S trim, equipment is adequate without being over-generous. Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, seven airbags, 6.5-inch touchscreen, keyless start (though not keyless entry) and manual air-conditioning are all fitted as standard. VW doesn’t include kit like parking sensors and automatic wipers and lights at this end of the range, though.

The 120hp diesel does, at times, struggle a bit. It’s fine in most circumstances, but doesn’t offer a great deal by way of urgency when required.

The Passat Bluemotion compares well against its rivals, if you ignore one major fly in the ointment. The VW has a better residual value and whole-life cost than any of the equivalent Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Hyundai i40 or Peugeot 508 models, with Ford and Vauxhall both just over half a penny per mile worse off, despite costing more than £1000 less to start with.

The Mondeo estate can get down to 99g/km, putting it in the same BIK band as the Passat, which would have dropped a band if only Volkswagen could have saved one more gramme per kilometre. The Peugeot and Vauxhall are both at 104g/km, with the Hyundai on 110g/km.

But that fly referred to earlier comes from within VW’s own family. The Skoda Superb manages a residual value more than five percentage points better, and is £1800 cheaper and 3.7p per mile better on whole-life costs. It’s also bigger, and better equipped. The Skoda is the answer to many a question in this segment, and this is no exception, unless you are very keen on the Volkswagen brand.

The Passat Bluemotion feels a bit like a return to the early days of low-CO2 models that were sparse, stripped-out versions of more appealing vehicles in the range. It’s not available in the more desirable trim levels, and is missing some standard kit that appeals to business drivers, but it’s classy, offers very low emissions, is cost efficient (if you ignore the Skoda) and a sensible decision.

VW Passat Estate 1.6 TDI 120 Bluemotion

Model price range £22,625-£41,645
Residual value 33.6%
Depreciation £16,630
Fuel £3860
Service, maintenance and repair £1878
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £2178
Cost per mile 50.9p
Fuel consumption 76.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 95g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £79/£159
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 650/1780 litres
Engine size/power 1598cc/120hp