- We like...class; terrific gearbox
- We don't...Not as raw as a GTi should be
Quick diesel joins Golf line-up - at last. But although it's a dead ringer for Volkswagen's petrol GTi, it's no fire breatherIt’s back. Volkswagen left its Golf without a hard-punching diesel engine for almost a decade but now, at last, the make’s put things right. The new GTD packs a 170bhp, 2.0-litre turbodiesel, an engine new to the Golf. And surrounding it is a body near enough a ringer for the just-refreshed new GTi – a spoiler, subtle body kit, lowered ride and big alloys. Only the ‘GTD’ badges on grille, boot and steering wheel mark it out.
On paper, and in common-sense terms, the GTD shades the petrol GTi. It mayn’t be as fast overall but it’s quick enough and when shoving itself through the lower gears, it’s actually swifter. Even so, it’ll travel far further per gallon – up to 50.4mpg. At £23,610 if you pick the three-door car with a manual gearbox, it’s even a few hundred quid cheaper than the GTi.
Ours here has five doors and a Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Use this just as you could a conventional auto. But, when you’re inclined, you can pick its six forward gears using paddle switches just behind the wheel, or by nudging the gear level to the left and then bumping it to and fro. The plan is that this set-up gives the ease of an auto and the power and economy of a manual. It’s an exceptional piece of engineering and works beautifully.
Now, the GTi is a wonderful car, quick, wonderfully involving to drive and classy to look at, within and without. It would be unfair to ask the GTD to match it: but can it serve up an equally tempting alternative?
Nearly. It has a similar, direct but not over-strung feel to its steering, while its ride is uncommonly civilised for a quick hatchback. Ours had the optional Adaptive Chassis Control. With this, you switch between ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’, firming the dampers and steering, and crisping the throttle response as you go. ‘Sport’ is fine for when you want to let rip, but ‘comfort’ ds fine meantime.
It’ll go fast, sure. But where it misses its mark is in the urgency, the rawness you’d want of a ‘proper’ performance hatch. It’s very civilised but there’s not that final degree of involvement, of fun that should be present in a real driver’s car.
If you want a quick, understated car that’ll whisk you from one end of the M1 to the other pleasurably and in comfort, it’ll spot-on. It’ll also be a dandy companion for an hour spent threading along windy lanes. As with the GTi and other Golfs, it is beautifully put together and has the classiest cabin we’ve sat in this side of an Audi. It is also reasonably spacious and has a good, sensibly shaped boot.
Should you buy one? Not if you really want a GTi. On the other hand, if a fast, comfortable, supple-riding hatchback is what you want, it’ll suit to a T.
To read the motors.co.uk review of the Golf GTi - and watch the video - click here
To view and buy new and used Golfs on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines2.0 turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph8.1sec
- Insurance groups15E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: