Can it balance GTI thrills with diesel economy?
The GTD has been around since 2014, when VW unveiled the Mk7 GTI and partnered it with a hot hatch diesel version. The thinking was that lots of people wanted the Golf GTI, but some people also needed better economy and ease of use, such as people who spent hours pounding up and down motorways.
That had to be balanced with the traditional Golf virtues of practicality and daily ease of use. Can the Golf GTD keep all that balanced or does it all come crashing down?
Let’s put aside the whole issue of diesels and legislation for one moment. If you’re thinking of getting a hot hatch diesel, this is a very good place to start. The four-pot turbocharged unit makes 181bhp, which is fun, but it also makes 280lb ft of torque and that adds considerably to the fun. There’s a really serious wodge of low-down grunt which stays as you rev upwards. There’s even a fairly fruity noise too by diesel standards.
Hitting 62mph in 7.4 seconds shows this is not some dull economy car. There’s real aggression here, aided by the traction control system to keep the wheels from scrabbling. Handling is good although there’s not quite the sharpness of the GTI when turning in or firing out. There’s more body roll and weight but it feels very dependable.
You could get adaptable dampers as an option but we don’t really think they’re worth it as the standard car balances a comfortable ride and sharp handling pretty well.
All occupants will be comfy in the Golf GTD as in most ways it’s the same as the GTI. There’s that great mix of style and practicality, sporty zing and space. There’s ample room for four, or five for shorter journeys, and the boot is remarkably big. The variable-height boot floor helps things further so there are few compromises to be paid for having that performance.
The red accents of the GTI are replaced in the cabin by a more sombre grey, but otherwise it’s the same as. There’s an eight-inch colour touchscreen which works well and has good connectivity. Sports seats and VW’s Active Info Display are all standard. Outside you get a host of standard kit including the sports bodykit, as well as sensors front and rear.
Overall this is a fine combination of sporting performance and economy. There’s a claimed 64.2mpg on offer and only 116g/km of CO2 if you opt for the slick six-speed manual gearbox. That can make it attractive for business users as it makes for sensible BIK tax while private drivers will welcome the very reasonable fuel consumption while getting all that go under the right foot.
However, you could hardly call the Golf GTD cheap, with prices from £17,765 to £27,225. Depreciation will be relatively low, so you’ll keep more of that compared to some competitors, but that’s the price you pay for the Golf badge.