Breadcrumbs

Volkswagen Golf

Car details navigation

8/10

Latest
Road Test

Volkswagen Golf GTD driven

Driven September 2013

Additional Info

VW's diesel hot hatch is infuriatingly difficult to criticise. It'll do 67.3mpg and 0-62mph in 7.5secs. It emits 109g/km of CO2. It's slick and Volkswagen-y inside. The driving experience is beguilingly refined, and not just for a high-powered diesel. There's plenty of space. And the styling has just the right amount of swagger.

Of course, it's also better than the old one. The 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo's output has increased by 13bhp, torque has grown by 22lb ft and weight has dropped by 27kg. That's trimmed the 0-62mph dash by 0.6 of a second and dropped emissions by 30g/km CO2.

That said, unlike the petrol, there's no Performance Pack power upgrade. But the hefty torque reserves make it feel properly rapid in the mid range. It's a responsive thing, too, and there's slightly more breadth to the rev range - it'll climb up to 4,000rpm before getting out of breath.

If you hit the Sport button, it'll even pipe in some pleasing (albeit synthetic) hot-hatch whumps and growls. And in Normal mode - which, let's face it, is where it'll be most of the time - it's tremendously quiet and composed.

VW has done a ton of chassis work to help polish the GTD's dynamic refinement, too. The suspension has been lowered and stiffened, there's the company's convincing XDS+ traction control (pinches the inside front wheel to stop wheelspin, and the inside rear to pivot it into corners), the GTI's quick two-turns-between-locks steering rack, and you get bigger brakes.

It suffers a bit from the GTI's risk-averseness through corners, especially if you go for a DSG auto over the six-speed manual - it alienates you rather more than you'd like for a performance car. But it's a confident, wieldy thing. Just don't expect the full-on sauciness of a thoroughbred hot hatch.

Inside, it's also a little more sober than its warmer contemporaries. But there are enough nods to the GTI pedigree to make it feel special: wantonly retro tartan seats, dimpled golf-ball gearknob, sports wheel and a special GTD instrument cluster.

But there's a fly in the ointment. It costs £25,285. The full-house petrol GTI will set you back only £560 more. You can get a Seat Leon FR diesel, which shares its MQB platform, does 65.7mpg, 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and 112g/km CO2 for £22,375. Which makes our only criticism of the GTD... the availability of a cheaper one.

Matt Jones

The numbers
1984cc, 4cyl turbodiesel, FWD, 181bhp, 280lb ft, 67.3mpg, 109g/km CO2, 0-62mph in 7.5secs, 142mph, 1377kg, £25,285

The verdict
Incredibly confident, engaging and very well refined. But maybe you should buy the cheaper Leon FR instead?

Now share it...

Latest road tests

4/10 Volkswagen Golf Sportsvan Driven
July 2014
8/10 Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion driven
September 2013
8/10 Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI driven
December 2012
6/10 Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion 1.9 TDi
October 2008
7/10 Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSi 160 GT DSG
September 2008

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear's code of conduct (link below) before posting.