I’m often asked which car I would have if I were allowed only one. If I think the questioner is asking from a slightly whimsical standpoint, the answer is a 1950s Bentley R Type Continental, in which, Alan Clark-like, I would glide from my castle to my London pad. If the questioner doesn’t look like he’d understand there are times and places when a velvet smoking jacket is just the thing, I say the new Range Rover.
But, if it’s your own money you’re spending, and you can cadge a lift around the shoot, I suspect the new Volkswagen Golf GTD might just have to become a third option.
The golf ball gear knob on the Volkswagen Golf GTD is a nod to the original GTi.
The Golf has been ubiquitous since its launch in 1974, and the Golf GTi has pretty much defined the hot hatch since it was launched two years later. As petrol cars have become less and less popular, often (but not always) being more expensive to run than their oil-burning stablemates, diesels have gone in the opposite direction, even in the category of sportier variants. The Volkswagen Golf GTD is basically a GTi with a diesel in the nose.
The Volkswagen Golf GTD boasts some impressive statistics. It’ll do 67.3mpg and 145mph. It emits a decidedly company car tax friendly 109g CO₂/km but can also hit 60mph from a standing start in 7.5 seconds. It is quite dear for a family-sized hatchback – at north of £26,000 by the time you’ve added heated seats and satellite navigation – but it feels worth every penny.
The build quality of the Volkswagen Golf GTD is superb, the materials used well chosen, and the standard equipment count generous. But it is the thoroughness of the engineering that really shines through. If you have read my articles before, you may have noticed I am not one who believes in the automatic superiority of German automotive engineers. But drive the Volkswagen Golf GTD for a while and I’ll forgive you if you start to fall under its spell.
The thoroughness of the Volkswagen Golf GTD’s engineering shines through.
The Volkswagen Golf GTD is a very, very grown-up car, and I mean that in a good way. Every single button, switch and control input is beautifully judged. From the way that the switches click to the big VW badge on the back that acts as a boot release; from the snick-snick of the gear change to the thunk of the doors, everything reeks of quality and engineering expertise. It is plenty quick too, with enough to overtake comfortably, and it handled the twisty, tricky backroads round the edges of the Bowland fells with genuine aplomb.
What the Volkswagen Golf GTD isn’t is hugely entertaining. The Golf GTD is a car that inspires profound admiration, maybe even a wry smile with its tartan seat fabric and golf ball gear knob nods to the original GTi, but you’re not going to fall in love with it. It’s more logical than Spock in a Sudoku competition but, if you’re going to buy just one road car, I’m not sure I could find a rational reason why you’d need anything else.
Specifications for the Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI GTD 184PS
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
CO₂ emission: 109g/km
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/bensamuelson
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