£26,390 - £31,175 Price range
58 - 67 MPG
Volkswagen created the Golf GTD to appeal to buyers who want the looks – and most of the performance – of the Golf GTI, but with much lower running costs. The GTD competes with other fast diesels such as the Skoda Octavia vRS, Ford Focus ST and the SEAT Leon FR.
Like the rest of the Golf range, the GTD received some aesthetic changes in early 2017 – namely some slightly redesigned front and rear bumpers and reshaped headlight innards, as well as standard-fit LED headlights and tail lights. From the outside, the Golf GTD still looks like an ever so slightly toned down GTI – it gets a body kit with a ground-hugging front bumper and roof-mounted spoiler, big alloy wheels and twin exhaust pipes. The subtle GTD badge in the grille is the only obvious clue that this fast hatchback is diesel powered.
Much the same is true on the inside, where the GTD gets the GTI’s trademark tartan interior trim – albeit in a subtle shade of grey – and a racy-looking flat-bottomed steering wheel. The same excellent quality – which sets the Golf above its rivals – is there for all to see.
Although the steering doesn’t give you the confidence to corner quickly like you can in a Ford Focus ST, it gets pretty close and the GTD carves through corners with a deft sense of composure.
The 181hp engine doesn’t feel quite as quick as the diesel in the Focus ST, but it has plenty of power for overtaking and the GTD is very relaxed on the motorway. It gets from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds but fuel economy of nearly 70mpg is the figure that really impresses.
Sports suspension, front and rear parking sensors, powerful xenon headlights and two-zone climate control all come fitted as standard, and you can get it with Volkswagen’s huge 9.2-inch Discover Pro sat-nav and infotainment system.
The Golf GTD – like the GTI and R – gets the best features of the Mk7 Golf’s interior, so you’ll struggle to find a nicer place to sit. The GTD gets lots of shiny black trimmings, a flat-bottomed leather-trimmed sports steering wheel and – if you a pick a manual gearbox – a dimpled, golf-ball-esque gearknob that harks back to the original Golf GTI.
The 2017 facelift added the option to get your GTD with the 9.2-inch Discover Pro infotainment system which has gorgeous graphics and responds quickly to prods and swipes. It also features gesture control, so you can wave your hands around in front of it to turn the volume up and down – but we found it to be a bit of an unreliable gimmick.
Also new for 2017 is the optional Active Info Display – a sharp screen that replaces the traditional rev-counter and speedo dials. It can also display sat-nav directions and really helps add some pizazz to the GTD’s cabin. You can also – for the first time in a Golf – charge your phone wirelessly and get an in-car internet connection.
Volkswagen Golf GTD passenger space
Room for passengers is good in the front and the back of the GTD and there are lots of adjustments to help the driver find a comfortable position. Critics praise the seats for being comfortable and supportive in corners.
Volkswagen Golf GTD boot space
The boot is the same size as the regular Golf, meaning you get 380 litres with the seats up and 1,270 when they are flat on the floor. That’s the same size as the Audi A3 Sportback and bigger than the load bays in the Ford Focus ST and Renault Megane Renaultsport.
Take a look at our dimensions guide to figure out if the Golf is too big, too little or just the right size for your needs.
If you come to the GTD expecting the sporty, exciting handling of the Golf GTI, you might be a little disappointed. There’s still a lot of grip so you can tackle corners at speed, but the extra weight of the diesel engine means it won’t respond as quickly to direction changes as a GTI. Overall, however, the GTD handles well for a diesel hatchback and, thanks to a clever traction control system, the GTD can pull hard out of corners with the throttle flat to the floor.
It has a softer ride than the GTI, though, so it’s a calming place for motorway journeys and the optional adaptive dampers let you swap between a firm ride and a soft one at the push of a button.
The Golf GTD only comes with one engine, and that’s a punchy 2.0-litre diesel with 181hp.
Volkswagen Golf GTD specs
It’s the diesel’s grunt at low revs that you’ll first notice when you accelerate hard, and the acceleration will raise a grin. It’ll propel the GTD from a standstill to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and on to 141mph.
Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual and a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Performance is almost identical, but DSG-equipped cars costs more to buy and are slightly more expensive to run, returning fuel economy of 65.7mpg compared to the manual car’s 70.6mpg. CO2 emissions are 125g/km.
The GTD, like the rest of the Golf range, is available with a host of technology that would only have been available on luxury cars a few years ago. These include the optional high-beam assist – that automatically dips your headlights when it detects other cars – and the standard-fit adaptive cruise control.
Naturally, the Golf gets a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score and scored especially well for adult occupant protection.
This is where the GTD’s appeal starts to wane a bit. Although it’s an exceptional package with frugal running costs, you can’t ignore the fact it costs a lot more to buy than the competition.
Its Spanish cousin, the SEAT Leon 2.0-litre TDI FR model has the same 181hp engine and underpinnings as the GTD, and the Spanish car is a whopping £3,500 cheaper than the Golf. Most critics say the SEAT doesn’t have quite the same class as the Golf, but that saving is hard to ignore. The Leon looks sportier and is available in bolder colours than the Golf, but you may want to blend in rather than stand out. In which case, have a look at our Golf colour guide to help you choose the right shade for your new GTD.
Whether you should buy a Golf GTD depends on what you’re buying it for. If you want a smart, fast hatchback that’s cheap to run, it’s a great car – if not very involving to drive.
If your priority is to have a car that’s all-round fun to drive and still practical, then it doesn’t compete with petrol-powered rivals, such as the Octavia vRS, which is a lot cheaper to buy and much roomier.
The Golf GTD is a perfectly accomplished, quick diesel hatchback that has a lot of class, but the GTI is still more fun. You can see how the two cars stack up by reading our GTI vs GTD head-to-head comparison.