Volkswagen Golf GTD review - the drivers' diesel hot hatch?

Hunter Skipworth
22 Feb 2016

Fun to drive but frugal when you need it

Evo Rating: 
Fit and finish, looks great, chassis
Diesel engine a bit utilitarian

evo Verdict

The latest generation Volkswagen Golf GTD has proper performance potential. Lowered, stiffened and with a trick electronic faux limited slip diff, it has all the staples of a hot hatch.

It also returns 45mpg even when you're enjoying yourself and has a fit and finish that would put some executive saloons to shame. For the most part, the GTD offers a fantastically well rounded package that delivers driver involvement when you need it and fuel economy when you don't.

But it does have one major thorn in its side: a petrol Golf GTI costs just £565 more. In some ways we want to say the GTD is just as good, but we wouldn't be telling the truth. It's the engine, no matter how good, that stops the GTD from truly coming close to its petrol powered cousin.

Special mention has to be given to VW's interior work with the GTD. The seats are exceptionally comfy, yet have enough side bolstering that you don't fly out of them. Then there is the ergonomics of the cabin, which are absolutely spot on.

The GTD is a little soft compared to other hot hatches and suffers from pointy yet fairly feel-free steering. Ultimately though it's still a very solid package.

The GTD is the hot hatch you can get away with. It's the sensible buying decision when you aren't really intending on buying something sensible. It's the car you buy when you need to reach a halfway house, but don't really want to.

evo Tip

The Dynaudio sound system on the Golf is one of the best in the business for the money. If you're into music, we highly suggest ticking the box for it on the options list.

The Discover Pro nav system is also right up there with the best, but at £1765, it's a little pricey. The cheaper £750 standard system gets you almost all the functionality of the more expensive version, just on a smaller 5.8-inch touch screen.

evo Comment

VW's progressive steering rack makes low speed stuff in the GTD a doddle, it also delivers a fairly neutral steering setup when moving quicker. The problem is, that it doesn't do that much to tell you what the car is up to.

Chassis balance is great, but the GTD would be even better if the steering offered a little bit more feedback.

'Volkswagen bills the GTD as one third of its hot-Golf triumvirate, alongside the petrol-powered GTI and R models. Apart from the grille accent being chrome rather than red and the different wheels, exhaust tips and badging, the GTD looks exactly like a GTI, which is to say handsome and purposeful. Its 2-litre engine falls 36bhp short of its petrol stablemate, but it counters with an additional 22lb ft of torque. The GTI remains the quicker car because of the narrow band in which the GTD – inevitably – returns the bulk of its torque, but there’s no doubt the diesel model is a sprightly performer. According to VW’s figures it should cover an extra 20 miles for each gallon of fuel, too.' Dan Prosser, road test editor, evo 200.

Performance and 0-60 time > 280lb ft of torque from low down the rev range makes the GTD feel quicker than it is. Performance is on a par with other diesel hot hatch competition. Read about the Golf GTD's performance here

Engine and gearbox > 2-litre 181bhp four-cylinder turbodiesel powers the GTD. Gearbox can be either a six speed manual or alternatively a DSG auto. Read about the Golf GTD's gearbox here

Ride and handling > Stiffer suspension than a standard Golf, lowered ride height and dynamic chassis control make the GTD an engaging steer. It's softer than a GTI though. Read about the GTD's ride and handling here

MPG and running costs > The GTD is an efficient hot hatch but doesn't quite live up to Volkswagen's efficiency claims. Crucially though efficiency doesn't drop off hugely when the car is driven hard. Read about the Golf GTD's MPG and running costs here

Prices, specs and rivals > Obvious rivals to the GTD mainly come from within the rest of VAG group. Alternatively, the Focus ST diesel is a strong choice. Read about the Golf GTD's rivals here

Interior and tech > The usual VW fit and finish rules apply. The GTD also gets GTI-style tartan seats. Read about the Golf GTD's interior here

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