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

Hunter Skipworth
18 Sep 2015

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.

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