From £24,2578
Diesel-flavoured slant on the GTI formula reaches the eighth-generation Golf
23 November 2020

What is it?

The new Golf GTD is not a performance hatchback, at least according to Volkswagen.

Instead, the firm prefers to call its new sporting diesel an “endurance athlete”, placing the emphasis on its long-distance qualities. Not that it’s slow, mind. It takes care of the 0-62mph sprint in a claimed 7.1sec and runs to 152mph – respective 0.3sec and 9mph improvements on the old Mk7 model.

The Mk8 Golf GTD uses the latest version of Volkswagen’s EA2288 Evo diesel engine, a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit that delivers 197bhp (16bhp more than the Mk7 Golf GTD) and 295lb ft. For comparison, the Golf GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo petrol puts out 242bhp and 273lb ft. Of its rivals, the Ford Focus ST EcoBlue and its 2.0-litre turbo diesel represent perhaps the biggest threat, with 187bhp and 309lb ft.

Unlike the latest Golf GTI, which can be specified with a six-speed manual, the new Golf GTD is offered exclusively with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox featuring steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The revised engine uses two selective catalytic reduction (SCR) filters with dual AdBlue injection. According to VW, they significantly reduce NOx emissions over the previous Golf GTD engine. CO2 emissions are 137g/km and WLTP fuel economy is 51.4-54.3mpg.

Altogether, there are three driving modes: Eco, Comfort and Sport, with an additional Individual setting to tailor the throttle, gearbox, steering and damper responses to your liking.

Underneath, it uses the same suspension layout as the Golf GTI – MacPherson struts front, multi-links rear – complete with a 15mm-lower ride height than other Golf models and VW’s new Vehicle Dynamics Manager function, which controls both the electronic differential (XDS+) and the adaptive dampers.

The latest Golf GTD adheres closely to the styling formula used for all Golf GTDs over the years by borrowing selected design elements from the current Golf GTI and, in line with recent VW developments, the petrol-electric Golf GTE. The sporting add-ons are relatively restrained but sufficient to mark it out as a sportier offering. Wheel sizes range from a standard 17in up to 19in.

What's it like?

Inside, it’s all very contemporary looking, with minimal switchgear. There’s a sports steering wheel with capacitive touch controls and a 10.3in digital instrument display. You notice quite a lot of hard high-gloss black plastic high up within the dashboard and there’s some less than premium materials out of the line of sight. However, there’s also precision to the build quality and a clarity to the digital displays that you don’t get in some rival diesel hatches. It’s also fairly easy to operate, even if some menus within the infotainment system run excessively deep.

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The engine is quite responsive and, by diesel standards, willing to rev in Sport mode. Performance is dictated by the torque: there’s strong shove from little more than 1500rpm and it keeps building in intensity until close to 4000rpm, giving the Golf GTD fairly potent in-gear acceleration.

For all its rev-building urgency, though, this diesel is happiest in the mid-range in Comfort mode, where it provides outstanding flexibility and relaxed high-gear cruising. There is some marked diesel chatter at start-up in cooler temperatures but it quietens as it warms and delivers acceptable mechanical refinement over longer trips.

The dual-clutch gearbox copes well, providing smooth and fast upshifts under acceleration. It is less impressive around town, though, where it can be a little tardy on downshifts, with the result that you occasionally get some mild driveline shunt in stop/start traffic.

Despite the weight of its diesel engine, the GTD turns in nicely and offers the sort of front-end grip you’d expect from a true hot hatch, holding your chosen line even at quite brisk cornering speeds. It is composed, too. There’s a progressive building of body roll but it remains well contained within the high limits of grip offered by the 235/35 R19 Dunlop Winter Sport SP tyres of our test car.

The ride is less forgiving than in other diesels, with greater vertical movement over uneven surfaces, but it continues to deliver excellent absorption and is never harsh.

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Should I buy one?

So the new Golf GTD lives up to its reputation as the most sporting of all diesel-powered Golf models. An “endurance athlete”? You can see VW’s point.

It is not as engaging or as quick as the Golf GTI, but there’s real appeal in its punchy in-gear nature and relaxed cruising. It is an easy and undemanding car whose composed dynamics and impressive economy make it a very well-rounded option.

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Comments
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AddyT 23 November 2020

I'll stick with my Mk7 GTD, thanks! I'll give VW their due it's not as ugly and the rear out of proportion as the lesser models, but for me the proportions of the 7 are bang on as others have said before. I also think the touchscreen setup is highly dangerous. Mine is distracting enough and that's without the number of functions that are present in the new car when using it. Lastly, I understand prices will always go up, but this is roughly around 5-6k more than I paid for mine. Is this a 6k better car? In my opinion no it isn't. If you're in the market for one, save yourself some cash and get a nicely specced 7.5.

Jon 1972 24 November 2020
AddyT wrote:

I'll stick with my Mk7 GTD, thanks! I'll give VW their due it's not as ugly and the rear out of proportion as the lesser models, but for me the proportions of the 7 are bang on as others have said before. I also think the touchscreen setup is highly dangerous. Mine is distracting enough and that's without the number of functions that are present in the new car when using it. Lastly, I understand prices will always go up, but this is roughly around 5-6k more than I paid for mine. Is this a 6k better car? In my opinion no it isn't. If you're in the market for one, save yourself some cash and get a nicely specced 7.5.

Its not a 6k better car but the pound has fallen so much since brexit its were the market is right now. I also suspect that importers have been gradually increasing prices to cover no deal and tariffs . You might just see price reductions in q2 if a trade deal is done.

martin_66 23 November 2020

How exciting.  A new diesel Volkswagen. When everybody else is going electric.

Has anybody checked the emissions?

Jon 1972 24 November 2020
martin_66 wrote:

How exciting.  A new diesel Volkswagen. When everybody else is going electric.

Has anybody checked the emissions?

Its available in petrol, diesel and hybrid. The E Golf is on the way.

Jon 1972 23 November 2020

Love the 125d being classed as a rival, ill just jump in the time machine and go back to 2018 and get myself one.

To be fair to VW they now offer 3 'performance Golfs' that go quickly and suit different markets and seem to be replicating it across Seat Skoda and Audi. As much as I'd love the GTi my job means a GTD Is he car I need to run. The GTE is out because as Auto Express pointed out, its ridiculously poor value compared to the A250e. The VW salesman nearly cried when he realised that MBs starting offer was £120 month less than the GTE and a free wall box thrown in.

scrap 23 November 2020

Not sure about this particular model, but a GTD estate could make a lot of sense. Diesel still a good choice for hauling lots of stuff long distances... and unlike a Range Rover or other large SUV, a Golf isn't too big for winding country lanes and other holiday destinations.

superstevie 23 November 2020

Think they must have meant the 120d. It has similar performance specs to this

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