Sunday 19 November 2017

Gti or GTD? That is the question

Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

HERE is a teaser for you.

Which would you buy? A spitfire Golf Gti with 23bhp or a diesel GTD with 184bhp?

Pace and power against panache and power.

The diesel costs a couple of thousand more – €36,490 against €34,570 for the petrol.

Do you want an 'i' or 'D' as the third letter?

On the one hand, the Gti is what it is: a gutsy, spirited drive.

On the other, the GTD has an assuredness about it and will undoubtedly get you much further on a tank of diesel.

If you decide in its favour, I think you have to go for the DSG automatic version (with up and down shift paddles on the steering wheel). The 6spd manual I also drove was a bit anaemic by comparison.

And I really don't think either could match the zip and zest of the Gti. Maybe I'm wrong.

You will pay less for the latter but I reckon you need to reason along the following lines.

You want a car that really says something? The Gti ticks the boxes.

You want a car that says you are prepared to dilute the iconic a tad in favour of more everyday considerations such as fuel consumption and, to a lesser extent, pulling power (torque)?

The GTD ticks the boxes.


While I would have preferred more demanding routes to test the GTD's mettle, there was plenty of evidence of a well-planted, well-rounded motor that was hard to knock out of its stride. No real magic, though. Nothing to make you want to drive harder, faster, tighter. Everything to make you feel secure, solid, accomplished.

Good supportive seats, excellent driving position, good company, beautiful rural scenery, people out making hay, big cattle grazing in lush fields all contrived to conjure a feelgood factor. But not a buzzing feel-fun factor, not a rush of excitement, not a Gti whiz.

The DSG version worked much, much better. Certainly kicking down the gears gave it a feeling of more bite, immediacy and power. And a better sound. The sort you want from a performance car.

Incidentally, I pushed both versions to the red-line revs and was really impressed by how quiet and non-intrusive the 2-litre diesel was.

The cabin is oh-so-Golf, with the big info screen its focal point. You expect and get good-quality upholstery, and plastics, especially on the rather bland dash and doors.

It was so easy to drive, ideal for a long journey or commute. There was much to admire and sample and it masked an ability to cover ground, corners, ups and downs with such capability that I only appreciated it when I realised the speed at which I had been travelling.

So where do you think you would spend your money?

If I had €30,000-odd to spend on a car with the halo of iconic performance around it, I'd want the real thing and the GTi is just that.

I'd want to boast about 'the GTi', not the GTD.

Not everyone will agree with me and after driving the latter they would have a case. It was really refined.

But I'm sorry, I think I've made up my mind.

Irish Independent

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