What is it?
This is the VW Golf GTD, a car which is a triumph of compromise or commonsense, depending on your point of view. It has been introduced to appeal to people who want performance and quality without punishing running costs.
Powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, it hits an official average of 50.4mpg, which means you can cover more than 600 miles on the 55-litre tank if you’re prepared to drive sensibly. If not, you’ll still get relatively decent mileage, while getting to enjoy most of the benefits of a standard warm hatch.
There’s also the prospect of low running costs to look forward to; emissions of 139g/km equate to an annual VED road tax charge of £120 a year.
What’s it like?
With 168bhp and 258lb ft of torque, the VW Golf GTD is sprightly and enjoyable to drive on a favourite country road, if not exhilarating; it’s clinically swift rather than startling.
That feeling is backed up by engine, road and wind noise that are always subdued, and do nothing to inject any aural excitement into your progress.
The car's handling and ride have been tuned towards performance, and it shows. The handling’s not pin-sharp, but given its relatively heavy kerb weight it copes well and gives confidence.
The ride is firm for everyday use, but fits the GTD’s performance billing without introducing anything approaching harshness.
The GTD also looks the part, sitting 15mm lower than the standard car and featuring styling tweaks including a deeper front bumper with larger cooling ducts, new headlamp graphics, chrome highlights in the grille, wider sills, a hatchback spoiler and a revised rear bumper with twin chromed tailpipes nestled together.
Should I buy one?
It’s impossible not to compare the GTD with the VW Golf GTI. It’s just over a second slower to 62mph, not as much fun to drive and less than £600 cheaper. That means you’d have to be a huge diesel fan to make the call in the GTD’s favour.
And even if you love diesels, the five-door’s £22,435 seems high for a car that doesn’t deliver thrills. If you want an entertaining diesel VW, buy a Scirocco GT 2.0 TDI CR and put £700 in your pocket.
Otherwise, while stablemates such as the Seat Leon FR TDI and Skoda Octavia vRS TDI may have an older and slightly dirtier engine, they are more fun for far less money.
Likewise, you may get more pleasure - and more cash left in your pocket - from mixing performance and economy in the 158bhp 1.4 TSI-equipped Golf GT.