Tuesday 28 January 2020


There is relentless pressure to make cars more fuel-efficient

By Philip Hedderman

It’s the motoring question I get asked the most and one which I find difficult to answer definitively. “Which would you choose – the VW Golf GTi or the diesel GTD?”

My heart always shouts GTi but  my head screams oil burner. A long commute to work means the diesel is a no-brainer for me, but if you’re a city slicker doing average miles then the petrol is definitely the car for you.

Or is it?

You see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to this particular conundrum as they are both spectacularly brilliant hot hatches.

This whole debate began back in 2009 when VW threw the proverbial spanner in the works with the launch of the GTD – the first high-performance diesel. The stats were so close even die-in-the-wool petrol heads admitted to having a sneaking admiration for it and conceded that the only real difference was the at-idle clatter of the diesel.

Now in its seventh generation, we expected the new model to be good considering the Golf was crowned European, World and for the first time ever – Japanese Car Of The Year.

It’s not good – it’s astounding.

From the very subtle styling (chrome strip instead of the GTi’s red), deeper front bumper with sunken strip foglamps, Xenon headlamps, 18-inch alloys , rear boot spoiler and chrome twin exhausts lets the more discerning car fan know this is something special. Sink into the half leather and tartan bucket seats  and rap your hands around the chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel emblazoned with the GTD badge and you just know it’s gonna be epic.

Top Notch

Build quality is top notch and the dash layout is crisp and clear with a quality premium feel to it. At night the strip lights in the door trim is a very clever touch and adds to the ambience of the cabin, which feels more compact executive than hot hatch. So much so that it would put the 3-Series BMW to shame. But in GTD country it’s all about the drive and the performance.

Not quite packing the same grunt at the GTI, the diesel is no slouch either banging out 184bhp, with a 0-100kph in 7.0 seconds and has a top end of 230. It does have the same ride and handling, and stick her in Sport mode the steering becomes a little more weighted, the gear ratios shortened and the most terrific growl is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Take the long, twisty back roads home and the GTD comes into her own, with masses of torque, oceans of grip, and thanks to the XDS+ system (electronic limited slip diff) you can really push her on.

What it lacks in drag-race starts it more than makes up for at the pumps – returning an astounding 67mpg (4.2 litres/100kms). And because emissions are just 109g/km tax is €190.

The only real chink in the GTD’s armour is the price and the one real deciding factor in the petrol versus diesel hot hatch debate. Priced at €36,495, the oil burner is €2,000 more than the GTi.

Online Editors

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