If you come to the GTD expecting the sporty, exciting handling of the Golf GTI then you might be a little disappointed.
The Golf GTD only comes with one engine, and that’s a punchy 2.0-litre diesel with 181hp.
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.
The trouble is, it doesn’t encourage you to wring it’s neck like the 2.0-litre petrol in the GTI. For two reasons, one – it doesn’t sound anything like as nice as the (admittedly electrically enhanced) petrol – and, two – it’s nowhere near as keen to rev, with full power hitting at 3,500rpm rather than the 4,700rpm the GTI requires.
On the other hand, the GTD plays the role of a relaxed, fast cruiser extremely well. It can overtake slow-moving traffic easily and deliver surging performance without the associated engine noise.
Cheaper to run than a GTI at the cost of less exciting engine note and a duller drive
Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual and a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Most people go for the more-expensive DSG – with no clutch to operate, it’s perfect for town driving and the quick changes mean there’s no loss of performance. The manual, of course, lets you choose exactly what gear you want at any given moment – something that will always appeal to enthusiasts who want complete control.
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And there’s a lot for enthusiasts to like about the way the GTD handles. With lowered suspension and wide tyres wrapped around 18-inch alloy wheels, there’s very little body roll in corners and plenty of grip so you can dive into bends at speed, confident that the sporty Golf isn’t going to let go.
The weighty diesel engine gives the GTD a nose-heavy feel that’s lacking from the GTI, so it doesn’t have quite the same light, surefooted feel as that car. And you also notice a difference powering out of corners where the GTD’s sizeable torque – 280Ib ft available from just 1,750rpm – can light up the front tyres with little effort, especially in the wet.
Driven sensibly, though, the GTD makes for a calm and collected cruiser, with excellent high-speed refinement and suspension that remains calm and collected on all but the worst bumpy country roads.
An option worth considering is Dynamic Chassis control, which allows you to adjust the suspension’s stiffness depending on your mood, or the road you’re tackling. Choosing from Sport, Comfort or Normal – it effectively means you can switch between nailed-down handling or a cosseting ride.