The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
The grown-up’s, fuel-sipping answer to the GTI
Pros
Thunderous in-gear performance
Terrific grip
Impressive economy
Cons
Surprising levels of wind and road noise
Ultimately not quite as lithe as the GTI
Oppressively dark and functional cabin

VW Golf GTD Mk 7 review (2013-on)

The GTD is the oil-burning equivalent of the legendary Golf GTI with the same sporty character, but in a much more sober suit.

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What is the VW Golf GTD?

The GTD is the oil-burning equivalent of the legendary Golf GTI. Its 2-litre diesel produces the same 258 lb ft torque and the car is set up to provide a sporty drive but looks-wise, it is a little more sober-suited. There’s none of the GTI’s lairy red body trim, for example, and that’s fine because, at least when finished in dark grey and with its squat stance, black honeycombe grille, single “GTD” bootlid badge, rear spoiler and smart, standard Nogaro 18in alloy wheels (optional 19in Santiagos cost a stiff £965) it looks even moodier and more menacing.


Search for and buy a used VW Golf GTD on driving.co.uk


Your choice is restricted to three and five-door models, and manual or DSG (semi-automatic) transmissions, in contrast to the GTI which explores the model’s performance potential with the addition of a so-called Performance edition.

This is the seventh-generation Golf. It rides on VW Group’s new MQB platform, which it shares with the Audi A3, and is wider and longer than ever before. What hasn’t changed is its quality, which continues to impress, from the much-advertised clunk of its doors to the satisfying click of its controls.

 

The drive

With the Golf GTD, you can have your cake and eat it. It goes like the Flying Scotsman, grips the road like Spiderman ‒ and drinks fuel like a vicar’s wife sips her tea. On a fast, 800-mile round trip to Scotland, our DSG test car averaged 45mpg. VW’s claimed 67.3mpg is doubtless impossible to achieve but 60mpg sounds perfectly do-able. The DSG’s CO2 emissions are 119g/km (tax band C) but an even more impressive 109g/km (tax band B) for the manual.

In Normal mode the DSG is a little slow to respond to the throttle, but then you can’t possibly be in a serious rush. Select Sport mode and the gearbox drops a cog or two and hangs on to it for longer, perhaps a smidgen too long. This might be a problem in a diesel with a narrower spread of torque, but the GTD gives its all across quite a wide rev range: 2,500-5,000rpm.

That said, for really determined progress, there’s no substitute for the steering wheel paddles. Tapping through the gears at optimum revs, when the Golf surfs a seemingly endless crest of torque, is addictive. Fortunately, even on the wettest roads and tightest corners, it never feels less than totally secure, although the steering could be a little less weighty, and a little more lithe and communicative. The ride is supple, the suspension never harsh. Crash into a pothole and there’s just that reassuringly deep-chested VW thump before the car barrels on.

Hot-hatch purists may crave the rev-happy antics of the GTI’s lusty petrol engine, and the model’s slightly lighter weight and sprightlier road manners. However, the GTD feels the slightly more rounded alternative, as happy cruising the motorway in relaxed, long-legged comfort as it is hustling along quiet country roads, and all on a sixpence.

The interior

Much has been written over the years about the high quality of a Golf’s cabin: the sturdy trim, the well-damped controls, the chunky positive switchgear. It’s the same story in the Mk 7 although now there are many more switches, some like the air ventilation switches sensibly grouped and others, like the driving mode selection button, located almost as an afterthought. It lies ahead of the transmission lever, just where you can’t reach it. Fine for left-hand drive, naturally.

Fortunately, as is the way these days, you can select this and many other functions instead from the steering wheel or, less conveniently because it’s a dangerous distraction, from the large, soft-touch multi-media display screen in the centre of the fascia.
The cabin is a little oppressive, not helped by the grey, retro-GTI tartan seat cloth, but fortunately, like all the best places, it comes alive at night. Pretty much every button, dial and control is illuminated with soft white lighting. Even the door panels get their own strip of white light.

The seats are comfortable, there’s plenty of legroom front and rear, and the boot is ample for most needs. So a lovely place to spend time except for one thing: it’s noisy. Tyre roar and wind noise are surprisingly intrusive at 60mph-plus. And this reveals shortcomings in the high-end Dynaudio sound system which, turned up to 50% to counter the ambient noise, can pump out rock music all day long but lacks the finesse and detail for classical.

 

The one to buy

VW Golf GTD 2.0 TDI DSG 5dr 

Factfile

Price:

£27,355 (accurate at first publication)

Engine:

1968cc, 4-cylinder diesel

Power:

210bhp @ 3500rpm

Torque:

258 lb ft @ 2500-5000rpm

Transmission:

Semi-automatic

Acceleration:

0-62mph 7.5sec

Top speed:

143mph

Fuel:

60.1mpg

CO2:

122g/km

Road tax band:

D

Dimensions:

L 4268mm, W 1799mm, H 1442mm

 

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