TopGear.com06 June 2013

First drive: Golf GTD

Efficient, fast, confident. But there's a fly in the ointment...

First drive: Golf GTD

Numbers. I want numbers.

67.3 mpg, 0-62mph in 7.5 secs, 109g/km.

Wow. Do they belong to the same car?

Yep, the 2013 VW Golf GTD - Wolfsburg's sporty diesel.

Ridiculous.

Isn't it just. Especially considering that it's more refined than a 1-series, and infinitely more interesting than an A3.

See more pics of the Volkswagen Golf GTD here

Quite. Any more good stats, then?

Yep. Power's up 13bhp to 181bhp, torque's grown to 280lb ft, and weight's down to 1377kg.

Crumbs. So it's pretty fruity to drive?

VW has done a ton of chassis work to distinguish it from the rest of the Golf-shaped oil-burners - the suspension's been lowered and stiffened, VW's I Can't Believe it's not a Limited-Slip Diff' XDS traction control is on all four wheels (it's usually just the fronts, though this is still just a front-wheel driver), the petrol GTI's variable-ratio electro-magnetic quick steering setup's been fitted, optional ACC adaptive dampers, and you get big brakes. But all that lot still doesn't make it fruity. Confident, wieldy, engaging - definitely. But it does lack the hand-down-your-pants sauciness of, say, a Focus ST.

Engine sounds good though.

Yeah, literally - now you can option a Sport and Sound package that synthetically beefs up the motor's rumblings. Which sounds appalling, but the noise fails to form even a nodding acquaintance with what we associate with diesels - the baritone thumps are really, genuinely appealing.

See more pics of the Volkswagen Golf GTD here

Fun. But what about the actual engine?

The 2.0-litre turbo delivers a nice whumpf of torque swiftly, and doesn't flatten out till 3,800rpm. It's bloomin' refined too, and not just for a high performance diesel - at idle there's barely any ticking, and when it's not in Sport mode it feels meticulously composed. Especially considering that MPG figure. But you should take it with a pinch of salt - 50mpg is probably more realistic.

Anything interesting going on inside?

All the usual Golf GTIness - wantonly retro tartan seats, dimpled golf ball gear knob, sports steering wheel, GTD trim strips and instrument cluster, automatic climate control, ‘ParkPilot' and a pretty reasonable Dynaudio sound system. Nobody can nail down an interior like VW, either, and this isn't an exception - no rattles, squeaks or empty-sounding plastics.

This has been a remarkably positive review...

Yes, that's because it's a remarkably good car. But there's a fly in the ointment - one number we neglected to mention. The price... It costs £25,285, which is about right for this sort of thing. But you can get a Seat Leon FR diesel, which shares its MQB platform, does 65.7mpg, 0-62mph in 7.5 sec, and 112g/km for £22,375.

What price, badge snobbery?

NUMBERS

1968cc, 4cyl, FWD, 181bhp, 280lb ft, 67.3mpg, 109g/km CO2, 0-62mph 7.5secs, 143mph, 1377kg, £25,285

SCORE
7/10

See more pics of the Volkswagen Golf GTD here

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