GTI looks and sprightly performance, but overpriced

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.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
AlexF512 20 July 2009

Re: Volkswagen Golf GTD 5dr

@montgomery I agree it's a great engine (Alfa 3.2 V6) and I appreciate the neck-hair point. The 156 GTA I had in the UK was great fun, but the small percentage of time you can use it in the UK is not enough of a trade off for the rest of the previously mentioned Alfa foibles versus a car that is, for me better and more useable 95% of the time. I'll trade that 'totally balls out hair raising 5%' for 'still pretty hair raising 5% but easy to drive and live with all the other times'. Just couldn't buy the Alfa.

Interior-wise, the 156 was definitely rickety and showing its age in comparison to even my older Golf, and the Alfa has been reasonably looked after.

Even the 159's interior, a brand new Q4 for example (a beautiful looking car), is at least a generation behind German cars. I really don't see how you can dispute that, you just need to sit in it and then go sit in an Audi, or even a VW Passat. The Alfa's not bad, and I don't subscribe to the old cliché that they break down any more than any other car, but overall they're not as well built, not as cosseting, not as well designed (even from a usabillity perspective they're awful!) and not on the same level as its class competitors.

Fair point on the speed though. Was indeed basing that on the official speed tests. Will have to check out Youtube for the Top Gear vid. And I repeat, irrespective of never buying a 147 GTA over a Golf (GTI or R32), it would still be good to drive one. :-)

drivenfromthere... 19 July 2009

Re: Volkswagen Golf GTD 5dr

montgomery wrote:

Actually the 147 gta is faster than any r32 in a straight line.... Just look at their power to weight ratios... The Golf is much heavier with the same power. Maybe the Golf is a little quicker on top speed but in the real world the Alfa will kill it.

In Autocar a few years ago the gta beat the 350Z and Boxter in the 0-100-0 test. An R32 wouldn't get close. Don't take any notice of Alfa's pessimistic claimed figures (if that's what you were basing your assumption on...?).

Torque steer is not a problem if you are willing to actually drive the thing, not just stamp on the pedal. That's part of the enjoyment in my opinion. Mine was fitted with the Q2 mechanical diff which admittedly should have been fitted as standard.

Better build material and quality? That might have been true in the past. The 147 has a lovely interior though and the materials are top drawer. Rickety old Alfa? Tired old clichè I'd say.

I think you misunderstood my "untamed beast" quote. That's what my Golf driving friend was expecting after listening to the U.K. media. He was surprised to find out that wasn't the case when he drove the GTA.

The 147 gta is a thing of real beauty, with one of the great engines that never fails to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The Golf in my opinion is just a nice, fast car Nothing more, nothing less. As you say, though, each to their own.

Remember the Top Gear test? Monstered both the Focus and R32. Have been hankering after a 147GTA for some time (to get my fix of one of THE best engines). My GTV was a T/S but that was better for the handling. In this segment I would be pushed to look further than the new 147 and the 1 Series cos that's just the guy I am. The 147 has all the feel good and wow factor and the 1 is just great to punt down my fave road and then waft quietly down the motorway. Having driven plenty of Golfs I don't get the same sense of occaision. Nothing wrong, and it's a fantastic choice (used to sell tem many moons ago) for me it is too jack of all trades. Perhaps I am adverse to perfection?

Quattro369 19 July 2009

Re: Volkswagen Golf GTD 5dr

CornishGreg wrote:
Cost £22K can now pick them up at 12-18 months old for £10K

WOW! Thats what you call depreciation!