The concept of a diesel powered hot-hatch is a relatively new one.
Built with the aim of providing the cut-price fuel bills of a diesel engine with the sporty pizazz and exciting drivability of a hot-hatch, they really should be the best of both worlds.
The Golf GTD and the Octavia vRS TDI are the latest diesel hot hatchbacks on offer from Volkswagen and Skoda respectively. Both are incredibly capable cars on paper, but when it boils down to the question of actually buying one, it’s important to know what sets these two apart. We’ve compared each element of these two closely related cars to help you decide.
The Volkswagen Golf has always been a handsome beast, and this trend has been continued with the current Mark 7 GTD diesel hot-hatch version. The 18-inch wheels, twin-exit exhausts and sporty, aggressive looking body panels are tell-tale signs that this is a performance orientated machine, and help to set it apart from the more standard versions of the Golf that are so common these days.
Keen-eyed car enthusiasts will note that the iconic red trim that is associated with the GTI is absent from the GTD, and although the GTD is still a sporty-looking car, it manages to not be as visually aggressive as its GTI cousin. That being said, this car still has plenty of visual appeal.
The same cannot be said of the Skoda Octavia. Whilst it is undoubtedly a good-looking car, it is rather plain in appearance, and lacks any head-turning visual appeal. That being said, the inconspicuous look of the Octavia has always been appealing for drivers who are looking to blend in.
There are only a few added visual tweaks that distinguish the vRS from the standard Octavia. 18-inch alloys come as standard, with 19s as an option for the first time on this model.
A new front bumper and low central air intake which is flanked by a pair of dummy intakes also help to differentiate the vRS from the standard model. Go for the hatchback vRS and you’ll also get a small boot-mounted spoiler too, and you’ll get twin-exhaust trims on the estate and hatchback. It’s worth noting that the right-hand exhaust exit trim is just for looks on the diesel version – only the petrol version gets an exhaust pipe behind each outlet.
Interior and practicality
Just as the exterior of the GTD has been tweaked to exude a more sporty image, so too has the interior. The GTD comes with the classiest level of trim available on the Golf range as standard, and has borrowed numerous styling influences from its GTI cousin; such as the flat-bottomed, leather covered sports steering wheel, and the comfortable and supportive sports seats. If you opt for the manual, you even get the iconic dimpled golf-ball-inspired gear knob that’s synonymous with the GTI.
In classic Volkswagen fashion, the interior feels incredibly well put together, and the build quality is impeccable. Road noise is kept to a minimum, and the diesel engine non-intrusive. Being a Golf, the GTD will carry four adults and all of their associated bits and pieces in comfort. Head and legroom are good, and the boot offers a generous 380-litres of space with the rear seats in place, and 1,270-litres with them folded down.
Although the Skoda is undoubtedly a nice place to sit, it does lack the premium feel offered in the GTD. The interior has largely been carried over from the standard Octavia, although there are a few styling tweaks to let you know that you are in the sporty vRS model, such as aluminium pedals and a vRS badged steering wheel, as well as sportier seats.
Critics have said that the sports seats are comfy, although tall drivers may have a hard time dropping them low enough in order to get a sporty driving position. Road noise and tyre-roar were also of concern to critics.
The area where the vRS does trump the GTD, however, is in the space department. Being a larger car, there is a lot more room available to passengers, and boot space is a massive 590 litres (610 in the estate) – it expands to a fairly silly 1,580 (1,740 in the estate) with the seats down. Put simply, the Octavia’s boot space is leagues ahead of most cars in this part of the car market.
Both cars are incredibly competent as proper drivers cars. The GTD offers plenty of grip through the corners, and minimal body roll. That being said, critics have noted that it is slightly softer than its GTI sibling, and can’t carry as much corner speed as the GTI.
Testers have noted that the optional DSG gearbox could be hesitant occasionally, particularly from a standstill, although if you opt for the six-speed manual this won’t be a problem. The GTD’s brakes impressed critics with their powerful and fade-free stopping ability.
The vRS offers similar levels of competency in the driving department. Road testers were impressed with the light and direct steering, as well as the excellent grip. They also commented on the speed with which it turns into corners, as well as the fact that the back end never feels out of step with the rest of the car when driven enthusiastically. Large amounts of torque available also make it incredibly easy to maintain momentum on tricky B-roads.
One area where the vRS does suffer in comparison to the GTD is in the road and wind noise department. Critics have commented on the fact that the larger 19-inch wheels do transmit a fair deal of road noise into the cabin at speeds over 40mph, and that at motorway cruising speeds, the lower level of refinement offered by the vRS does make for a slightly more tiring driving experience than in the Golf.
The GTD and the vRS share the same 2.0-litre TDI engine, which serves up 184hp and 280lb ft of torque. Commentators have noted that this engine provides plenty of grunt at low revs in both cars, and more than enough power to put a smile on your face under acceleration.
Thanks to its smaller size, the GTD completes the 0-62mph dash quicker than the vRS, achieving a time of 7.5 seconds as opposed to the 8.1 seconds the vRS takes. The GTD is also slightly more frugal than the vRS, giving an economy figure of 67.3mpg in comparison to the vRS’s 61.4mpg.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a fairly grumbly unit, but the extra money you pay for the GTD is spent on more sound-deadening material, meaning engine noise is less intrusive than it is in the cabin of the vRS. That said, commentators were still impressed by the smoothness of the engine under acceleration in both cars.
Value for money
When it comes to value for money, the GTD’s appeal does begin to wane a little bit. For starters, it is considerably more expensive to buy than the vRS, with entry prices beginning at £26,015 as opposed to £23,260 for the Skoda.
The GTD is arguably the more premium car, and the VW badge is famous for holding its resale value. The GTD is also slightly cheaper to run than the vRS, thanks to its impressive economy figures. It also offers marginally better levels of performance.
The vRS, on the other hand, offers buyers far more space than the GTD, as well as a significantly lower price for a car that shares the same platform and engine.
When it boils down to it, personal preference will ultimately be the deciding factor when it comes to deciding between the two. The GTD offers the more premium badge, as well as the aforementioned greater levels of performance, economy and refinement – whereas the vRS offers far greater practicality for less money, with almost-as-good levels of performance and economy.
If you have the extra £2,800 available, the GTD would be the car to go for. It offers better looks, a more premium badge, greater levels of refinement and blistering performance.
Although Skoda as a brand has come a long way from the laughing stock that it was only a few decades ago, the vRS still can’t quite match the GTD in terms of appeal.
That being said, the vRS is certainly not a car to be dismissed, and if you are looking for a fast, unassuming and economical hot hatchback, but can’t quite afford the £2,800 premium, the vRS would certainly be an attractive option.
Want to see how carwow got on when they had a Skoda Octavia vRS for a week? We examine what kind of car it really is.