New twist as VW Golf adds this practical package
IT’S a household name. Maybe not as frequently used as Hoover or Selloptape, but not far behind. The Golf, in its various manifestations, has been around for more than four decades now sweeping away the opposition and clocking up 30 million sales worldwide. As one of the forerunners among the then newly created hatchback style it became the gold standard in family motoring for generations while the sporty GTI versions set the bar high in terms of handling dynamics. But positioned somewhere between the explosive Golf R/GTI and the frugal family holdall there’s the GTD, a fuel-sipping practical package which nevertheless has the clout and handling to walk tall alongside genuine sports cars with much heftier price tags. The fact that it’s a diesel may not be flavour of the month right now, but it does endow it with oodles of torque that translates into impressive high gear pick-up and very usable everyday performance. This accessible power is coupled – on this car – to a slick twin clutch automatic transmission producing lightning changes and flattering the VW’S power curve. All this is accomplished in undramatic fashion with just a gruff muffled growl from the two-litre oil burner and a controlled scrabble of the front tyres as they fight for grip. 62mph comes up in little more than seven seconds but more significant is the rapid burst of overtaking power between 50-70mph. Beefier brakes and lowered sports suspension plus traction control that operates on all four wheels complete the picture. Despite seriously low profile rubber, the ride is supple but firm over most surfaces with negligible cornering roll. Only our roads’ abundance of potholes manage to disturb the general assurance and occasionally jar its occupants. It clings to the Tarmac tenaciously even though the steering is somewhat lifeless and lacking in feel. There’s just a hint of steering tug coming out of bends on full throttle. With its macho styled bodykit of deep front spoiler, sideskirts and LED tail lights, the Mark 7 Golf looks the business. Equipment level is generous with eight-inch touchscreen, dual zone climate control, heated seats and active information display all standard. Smart tartan covered bucket seats in the front are a nod to GTI heritage and look great. It’s roomier than previous Golfs but cabin space is less generous than either Honda Civic or Skoda Octavia. Legroom is fine for those in the front but less roomy for back seat occupants while the regular shaped 380 litre boot should be big enough for most families. Although the Golf GTD at a whisker under £30,000 isn’t exactly a budget purchase, running cost are reasonable with miserly fuel consumption which averaged 47mpg in my hands. Punt it along gently, and closer 55mpg is a realistic average. With its handsomely solid looks, strong residuals and gutsy performance alongside pound-stretching economy the GTD proves it’s possible to have best of most worlds.