The Volkswagen Golf GTD combines fuel economy of 67.3mpg and emissions of 109g/km CO2 with a 0-62mph time of just 7.5 seconds – all in a practical Golf package.
Gone are the days when cars that offered decent performance struggled to return more than 30mpg. Now you can have performance as well as economy, and the latest Volkswagen Golf GTD is a perfect example. The GTD aims to offer most of what the GTI does, but with better economy and lower emissions.
It’s a Golf. Probably little more needs to be said to reassure people that they’re buying a solid, dependable, practical, well-built package. It’s evolved over seven generations, and this latest version is certainly an evolution rather than a revolution in the design department. Perhaps this provides the familiarity that Golf buyers need. At least the GTD looks much more interesting than most Golfs with its alloy wheels and more sporty body styling.
The interior of the GTD has some very welcome extra design details, such as carbon-fibre effect inlays, compared to the more basic Golf models which don’t exhibit much flair and can be quite sparse in terms of equipment.
The GTD has four drive modes to choose from – Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual – although there’s not a huge amount of difference between the options apart from in the area of throttle response. And we’re still not fans of electronic handbrakes – another feature of the GTD.
The Golf has to be very close to the optimum size for a family car. It’s compact enough to park, yet thanks to its boxy shape, it’s practical and spacious. With the rear seats down, we easily fitted two mountain bikes inside the car (with front wheels removed), and it looked like we could have even squeezed in a third.
The Golf GTD has a 2.0-litre turbocharged common rail diesel engine mated, in our test car, to a six-speed manual gearbox. Maximum torque is a very useful 380 Nm (280 lbs ft) from just 1,750 rpm.
The GTD has a more sophisticated rear suspension set-up than the basic 1.6-litre diesel Golf that we’ve tested previously – and this makes a noticeable difference to the driving experience.
The GTD is certainly one of the best models to drive in the Golf range. All the qualities of the basic Golf are there, such as solidity, refinement and comfort – but there’s also a substantial fun factor added in. This is primarily a result of the extra power (184PS), which transforms the driving experience from being efficient but not very exciting in the basic Golf models to a situation where the GTD actually offers some decent levels of performance. Even to the extent that there’s more power than the car can handle in wet or damp road conditions, when the front-wheel drive chassis is all too keen to demonstrate wheelspin and torque steer, and that wonderful characteristic of front-wheel drive, understeer.
Things get even more interesting if you disengage the traction control when powering on in the wet, when the GTD either becomes even more fun, or a little tedious, depending upon your view.
Aside from driving the GTD progressively in the wet, overall it feels like a mature and premium driving experience, with good handling and a comfortable ride. However it’s always going to be a front-wheel drive family hatchback rather than a rear-wheel drive sports car. Maybe Volkswagen should consider a four-wheel drive GTD, as this would transfer more of the engine’s torque to the road.
The official economy figure for the Golf GTD is 67.3mpg, along with emissions of 109g/km CO2 (just 10g/km higher emissions than the 99g/km CO2 1.6-litre diesel Golf). Combined with 184PS, 143mph, and 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, these are impressive figures. However, as with the vast majority of cars that we test, we struggled to come close to 67.3mpg. The best news is that at a maximum of 70mph on motorways we achieved an average of 53.2mpg. The ability to achieve over 50mpg on long motorway runs in a car that also has good levels of performance is an excellent selling point. However our overall average after a week was 44.5mpg. This is still not bad after very mixed driving, but it’s a fair way short of 67.3mpg. There’s probably a good reason for this – if you drive the GTD carefully on the NEDC test cycle it will be capable of achieving over 60mpg. However the typical GTD buyer will be using the performance on offer rather than driving like a BlueMotion driver and the real-life fuel economy will reflect that.
You can also specify an optional six-speed DSG transmission, which we’ve tested in the Scirocco 2.0 TDI , and is excellent; with this, fuel economy falls slightly to 62.8mpg, and CO2 emissions rise by 10g/km to 119g/km.
The Golf GTD costs £25,940. Our test car came with the options of satnav (£735), winter pack (£355) and metallic paint (£525) – bringing the total price to £27,555. That’s quite a lot for a small family hatchback – even a Golf. The cost of the GTD at £25,940 is over £6,000 more than the 1.6-litre Golf diesel at £19,565. This price premium mainly gives you more performance, without much loss of economy – and of course more luxuries in terms of equipment. This sounds like a lot of extra money, but if you drive both cars, you’ll probably think that this price premium is worth it. And there you have it – this is how the Volkswagen Group makes its money – by building basic platforms and offering more and more options, for more and more cost. This strategy obviously works – as we write this, the Volkswagen Group has announced that it sold over seven million vehicles between January and September 2013.
This strategy is proven by one look at the Golf model range, which starts at £16,495 for the 1.2 TSI 85 S 3-door, rising to £26,500 for the 2.0 GTi 5-door. In between these two extremes there’s a variety of petrol and diesel engines and trim levels.
The Golf GTD tries to offer everything, and it comes very close to succeeding. It has good performance, and excellent economy – although you won’t be able to enjoy both at the same time. It’s practical, well-built and refined. It’s certainly our favourite Golf, and if it wasn’t for the Scirocco , it would be our favourite Volkswagen. So as a very capable and desirable all-rounder, it ticks virtually all of the boxes. In our opinion, the only key area where it comes unstuck is in its appeal for keen drivers, who may not appreciate the tendency for wheelspin and torque steer from the front-wheel drive chassis, particularly when pressing on in the wet. However assuming that such potential buyers may look elsewhere for a rear or four-wheel drive option, for the majority of drivers the GTD will offer most things that they want, and so it’s awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 9 out of 10.