Volkswagen Golf GTD review

1 October, 2013 | by Matt Jones

VW’s diesel hot hatch is infuriatingly difficult to criticise. It’ll do 4.2l/100km and 0-100kph 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 9kW, torque has grown by 30Nm and weight has dropped by 27kg. That’s trimmed the 0-100kph 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.

Matt Jones

The numbers
1984cc, 4cyl turbodiesel, FWD, 135kW, 380Nm, 4.2l/100km, 109g/km CO2, 0-100kph in 7.5secs, 228kph, 1377kg,

The verdict
Incredibly confident, engaging and very well refined.


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