REVIEW DATE: 21 Apr 2009
Volkswagen has brought diesel performance to its Golf range with the GTD model. Steve Walker reports.
Fast Golfs with diesel engines are nothing new. There's many a performance car driver that's been given a fright by an unassuming Volkswagen hatch with a lively oil-burning powerplant installed. The fourth generation model had its lunging 1.9 TDI 150 and the fifth could be ordered with serious brute force from a 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit but these cars have always maintained a lower profile than the range-topping petrol powered GTI models. In the sixth generation Golf, the quickest diesel is being promoted more forcefully under the GTD badge.
The idea of a diesel hot hatchback had been looking more and more palatable as engine technology has improved and the costs associated with running the petrol alternatives have edged upward. For around the same money, and often quite a lot less, diesel can offer a good proportion of the excitement with a massively superior bottom line over a typical ownership period. Volkswagen's GTD model is edging the diesel hatchbacks in an even sportier direction by incorporating many of the styling and dynamic modifications that had previously been reserved for the fastest petrol cars. For hot hatch fans who had routinely turned their noses up at diesel, it may now be time to think again.
At first glance, there's little to get excited about. The MkV Golf was available with a 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine and the unit powering the GTD version of the sixth generation car also fits that description. In reality, though, this is a completely different engine that utilises common-rail fuel injection technology in place of the older unit's direct injection set-up. Common-rail typically spells superior refinement and improved efficiency which aren't exactly the primary concerns of the average hot hatch buyer but it also brings a smoother power delivery which is more likely to be considered a key bonus. Of more relevance still is the 0-60mph time of 8.1s which qualifies the GTD for warm hatch status, if not quite hot. Then comes the clincher in the shape of the 258lb/ft of torque that's available, substantially more than the 206lb/ft that GTI customers have to call upon.
".the Golf GTD brings something different to the party"
The GTD is always going to be a different animal to the GTI but the two cars also have more in common than previous diesel Golfs have had with the petrol range-topper. For a start, the car rides on sports suspension set 15mm lower than that of standard Golf models and it also incorporates Volkswagen's Adaptive Chassis Control technology. This system lets the driver set the car into normal, Comfort or Sport modes which alter the steering, suspension and throttle response accordingly.
Looks are always an important factor in the hot hatch market and the GTD inherits many of the features that set the GTI apart from lesser Golfs. This being Volkswagen, the overall look is still quite understated in the grand scheme of things but the honeycomb grille and lowered front bumper provide a purposeful look for the GTD that's lifted directly from the famous petrol counterpart. At the rear, body-coloured bumpers lower and widen the car while 17" alloys occupy the wheelarches. Many of the key elements of the GTI's cabin are carried over with subtle revisions. The superb flat-bottomed steering wheel is similar to the GTI item, while the Tartan trim is slightly altered, as is the gear shifter. The overriding class of the GTI's cabin is certainly retained.
Pricing for the GTD models is set slightly below that of the GTIs, presenting buyers with a stark choice between the two fuels. There are further choices to be made between the three and five-door bodystyles and the 6-speed manual and DSG paddle shift gearboxes. Equipment levels for both cars are generous with the GTD featuring ABS brakes, ESP stability control and seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag.
Lots of family hatch manufacturers now offer performance diesel versions of their cars but only a few take things to the level that Volkswagen has with the GTD. The clear association it has with the legendary GTI brand should stand it in good stead in a market where image is crucial.
The appeal of the Golf GTD is centred around its low running costs. Well, they're low for a performance hatchback. The car's 53mpg combined economy figure is quite spectacular for a family hatch with this kind of performance and emissions of 139g/km will also save owners some pennies. Add in the traditionally buoyant residual values attached to the Golf and its GTI derivatives in particular, and you have an ownership proposition that appeals on a number of levels.
The old petrol or diesel conundrum is one that usually confronts company car buyers agonising over their next rep mobile. Volkswagen's Golf GTD suggests that it could increasingly be something for boy and girl racers to get their heads around. The performance diesel hatchback might not be anything new but by aligning the GTD so closely with the famous GTI models, Volkswagen has given its effort a big helping of extra credibility.
It's hard to see diesel replacing petrol as the fuel of choice in the fast hatchback sector any time soon but the Golf GTD brings something different to the party that's desirable in its own way. It will inevitably be a compromise in terms of outright excitement and pace but one that many buyers will be willing to make in exchange for the GTD's blend of low costs, pace and that classy GTI feel.
The results below show the top GOLF deals on buyacar
|Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDi 170 GTD 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI GTI 5dr DSG [Performance Pack] hatchback|
|Price £26,574||Save £2,316|
|Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI GTI 3dr [Performance Pack] hatchback|
|Price £24,691||Save £2,129|
|Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI GT 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £21,355||Save £2,320|
|Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI GTI 5dr hatchback|
|Price £24,395||Save £2,100|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT GOLF DEALS|
|For GOLF GTD|
|OVERALL||8.3 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||9|
Let our car quote assistant help you configure your ideal new Golf - it's 100% free and easy to use...
Click below for more information: