VOLK­SWA­GEN GOLF GTD

The fastest diesel-burner around

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by BERNARD HELLBERG SR | Images © VOLK­SWA­GEN SA

WITH VOLK­SWA­GEN FAC­ING THE BRUNT OF THE RE­CENT DIESEL­GATE SCAN­DAL IN THE UNITED STATES, IT WAS QUITE A SUR­PRISE THAT THE COM­PANY WOULD CON­TINUE DEVEL­OP­ING AND MAR­KET­ING DIESELPOWERED CARS AS AG­GRES­SIVELY AS BE­FORE. AND NOT MERE DIESELPOWERED, BUT WITH PER­FOR­MANCE ABIL­I­TIES THAT WOULD PUT MOST PETROL-POW­ERED VE­HI­CLES TO SHAME. BERNARD HELLBERG SR PUT THE HIGH-PER­FOR­MANCE GTD TO THE TEST.

A fa­mil­iar sight on our roads for the past four decades, the Golf range might sell in lower vol­umes than the com­pany’s en­try-level Po­los, but it re­mains one of the most iconic name­plates on the lo­cal mo­tor­ing scene.

With six mod­els now on of­fer – rang­ing from the 999 cc and 81 kW to the mighty 213 kW Golf R – the gap in the line-up was no­tice­able. Fans of the Golf – and there have been 350,000 in South Africa since launch – needed a diesel-pow­ered per­for­mance ver­sion that would pro­vide grunt to, al­most, ri­val the out­puts achieved by the iconic GTI – but with­out the fuel con­sump­tion that ac­com­pa­nies petrolengined per­for­mance cars.

EN­GINE AND TRANS­MIS­SION

Wolfs­burg engi­neers seem to have got it spot-on with a four-cylin­der turbo diesel that “only” makes 130 kW (when seen against the Golf R’s 213 kW), yet I per­son­ally found this to be one of Volk­swa­gen’s most ad­vanced en­gines with smooth, lin­ear, power com­ing into play at an ex­tremely low 1,500 r/min. Herein lies the GTD’s se­cret. The 0-100 sprint time of 7.4 sec­onds (sup­plied by VW) is 2.8 sec­onds slower than the R’s in­sane time, but still good enough to qual­ify as a su­perb ef­fort – re­gard­less of the fuel used.

The six-speed DSG gear­box, as usual, was one of the car’s high­lights– pos­ing the ques­tion: Why would any­one even con­sider a man­ual shifter when such ex­cel­lence is

avail­able? Con­sid­er­ing that the world is now mov­ing (and has moved) into seven, eight and even nine-speed gear­boxes, this six-speed ver­sion has shown that per­fectly matched ra­tios are more than ad­e­quate for all in­tents and pur­poses.

Gear changes were im­per­cep­ti­bly fast – adding to the over­all feel­ing of lux­ury– and ex­plain­ing not only the great ac­cel­er­a­tion fig­ures but also the im­pres­sively high (230 km/h) top speed. A bonus for those with su­per-sen­si­tive hear­ing was the diesel’s muted growl, which was less metal­lic than the en­gine sounds em­a­nat­ing from the Golf R and the GTI. It was only dur­ing startup that one be­came aware that a di­rect in­jec­tion com­mon rail diesel was at work.

LET’S GO IN­SIDE

As with all Golfs, the in­te­rior is a wel­com­ing space with a per­fectly-sized steer­ing wheel, well-shaped semi-sports seats and con­trols which, at last, make sense at first glance. With VWSA, quite rightly, claim­ing “big car” qual­i­ties for the GTD, they ap­par­ently could not hold back on safety and lux­ury.

Brakes are re­spon­sive, all-disc ver­sions and the all-LED head­lights are some of the best I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced on the open road at night. Cut-off from bright to dim is in­stant, and a great safety fea­ture for on­com­ing traf­fic as well.

The steer­ing wheel is fully ad­justable for height and reach, and all win­dows and ex­ter­nal mir­rors are elec­tri­cally ad­justable, while the in­fo­tain­ment screen is another lux­ury fea­ture that could al­most jus­tify the R506,700 ask­ing price.

STILL STYLISH?

Per­haps the ques­tion is un­fair since the Golf range owes its sales suc­cesses, I be­lieve, to a de­sign phi­los­o­phy based on evo­lu­tion rather than many rev­o­lu­tion­ary and rad­i­cal changes. This, I be­lieve, is pre­ferred by own­ers cur­rent and fu­ture who would cer­tainly not want to drive a car that’s so thor­oughly (and quickly) out of date that one would need to get rid of it at any cost.

Look care­fully, and you might see the dual tailpipes, ut­terly strik­ing 18” wheels, and ad­di­tional air in­lets in the front bumper. There’s no fancy red strip­ing so beloved of GTI own­ers, but a roof spoiler makes the car look longer, as do the front and rear lights (all LED) that now wrap around for ad­di­tional dra­matic ef­fect.

LAST WORD

The new Golf GTD is not cheap but is it much more than just another rather noisy diesel. It’s an ex­clu­sive ad­di­tion to the Golf range for those who de­mand fuel econ­omy and sig­nif­i­cant tour­ing dis­tance on each tank of fuel – as well as the me­chan­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity of a Volk­swa­gen diesel. Mov­ing into the R500,000+ bracket means that buy­ers have a fair list of ve­hi­cles from which to choose. The Toy­ota 86 2.0 High, Re­nault’s Mé­gane RS 275 Fi­nale, and the Ford Fo­cus ST3 all un­der­cut the GTD in terms of price but not on fuel con­sump­tion, which is a claimed 5.3 litres/100 km. The GTD, in my view, oc­cu­pies a unique space where there aren’t any com­peti­tors, and with its five-year/90,000 km ser­vice, as well as its three-year/120,000 km warranty, it’s poised to achieve iconic sta­tus in the fu­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.