2017 Volkswagen Golf GTD review – is it still a proper hot hatch even though it's a diesel? - Engine and gearbox
Frugal and refined but at the cost of excitement
Engine and gearbox
The Golf GTD uses a 2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that puts out 181bhp. As we've already said, its 280lb ft of torque is more than enough to make things feel brisk.
Despite the synthesized noise hiding the engine’s dieselly grumble, its typical oil-burner performance delivery can’t be hidden. Instead you end up embracing the engine’s strong mid-range grunt and drive the GTD in a different manner to, say, a GTI. It doesn't have the same instant and gratifying fun factor of revving the standard GTI right to its red line, but you can make swift progress with surprisingly little effort. Some may even prefer this easy-going speed. It’s also refined when cruising, with barely any engine noise, fake or otherwise, entering the cabin.
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The six-speed manual gearbox has a short and slick action. There’s an almost magnetic feel to slotting through the gate, with only a tap of the gearlever being enough to switch from third to fourth. Being able to perform fast changes easily, and with some relatively closely stacked ratios, it’s very easy to keep the engine in its torquey mid-range.
The new GTD gets VW’s wet dual-clutch DSG transmission. The gearbox has proven to be an impressive piece of equipment in the Audi S3 and Golf GTI Performance and it’s the same in the GTD, offering up quick shifts and a smooth auto mode as and when you need it. The GTD’s old six-speed DSG didn’t suit the diesel engine’s power delivery quite as well, often picking the wrong gear at the wrong time. It held on to gears allowing the engine to rev into its ineffectual top-end and would kick down too readily not making the most of the mid-range. The GTD’s new DSG gearbox is better when left to its own devices, but pulling the paddles manually does get the best from the engine. Still, we’d recommend the manual as it's cheaper and more engaging.