VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTD + R
Bucking the trend of noses being pulled up at the mere mention of the word diesel, Volkswagen Group recently launched an oil-burning version of their iconic GTI. With Volkswagen’s marketing gurus being at pains to emphasise that the GTD is not a GTI with a diesel engine, but rather a version with Grand Touring characteristics with the added advantage of fuel frugality and the absence of visual indications that it’s a hot hatch like its petrol-engined sibling.
With over 350,000 Golfs sold in South Africa over four decades, this updated version of the seventh generation follows in the footsteps of all other Golfs by bringing big car road manners and advanced technologies to the compact class.
SHOW AND GO OR ONLY SHOW?
While not nearly in the same performance class as the Golf R with which the GTD shared the launch event, the GTD is a more than frisky customer with 130 kW on tap from its four-cylinder turbodiesel. A sprint time of 7.4 seconds for the 0-100 km/h event is certainly still good enough to guarantee a place in the ranks of the hot hatches, while the 230 km/h top speed (which we didn’t attempt) is equally impressive.
Like all well-designed diesels, the secret behind this all-new TDI’s impressive acceleration may be ascribed to its 350 Nm of torque which kicks in at 1,500 r/ min – while returning overall fuel economy figures of 5.3 litres/100 km– a feat which no other hot hatch will be able to emulate.
Meanwhile, its R launch partner has broken the magic “100 kilowatt per litre” target with 213 kW and (optimistic) fuel consumption figures of 6.9 litres/100 km.
Visually, the GTD is somewhat similar to the GTI– but without the characteristic red highlight, radiator surrounds. A chrome strip extends into the headlights, while it sports dual tailpipes and a striking set of 18-inch alloy wheels. LED lights and a pronounced roof spoiler signal to the world that the GTD is much more than a standard Golf. This has the added advantage of making the GTD seem longer while even in side profile,
the light contours of the LED daytime running lights stand out.
Like all Golfs, from entry-level to the hairy-chested R version, the ride provides that “tested on the track” feeling. Steering inputs are precise, cornering is sublime, and there are enough safety gadgets and features on both models to keep things straight and tidy. Traction control, powerful all-disc brakes (with ABS and EBD) as well as launch control (on the R) enhance the overall confidence-inspiring feeling, while some options such as adaptive cruise control, rear traffic alert and blind spot monitor enable both Golf models to play in the luxury league.
It’s an old saying that one’s first “how do you do” moment with a car consists of contact between hands and steering wheel, as well as ones gluteus maximus settling into the seat. If the steering is too small or too large, too thick or too thin, and the seat hints at eventual agony on a longdistance trip, then you know, instinctively, that these wheels are not for you.
With both Golf models, the interior was a warm and welcoming space. Decent climate control, cruise control, superlative DSG gearboxes going about their business of reminding us just how brilliant they are, and all combining seamlessly to (almost) justify the respective price tags of R506,700 (GTD) and R647,300 (R).
Both Golfs were an absolute pleasure to drive thanks to phenomenal roadholding, top-grade Michelins on all wheels, a classy interior with a 9.2” screen and an infotainment centre with gesture control, while techno-fanatics will love playing with the Sport HMI feature which displays power outputs and G-forces at play. Counting in the GTD’s favour is the quiet nature of the engine once inside the car. A more muted growl, instead of a harsh, petrol-induced sound, distinguishes the GTD from its petrolengined siblings, and is easy to live with – especially when considering the fuel savings made possible by choosing the GTD over its petrol-engined derivatives. Both models score at least an eight on the desirability index.