Sunday 19 November 2017

The GTD brings plenty to the party, but it's just not a GTi

Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I can give you a dozen strong, sound reasons to buy this performance diesel version of the Golf. They are all measured and relevant and underline a legion of impressive credentials. Yet I think just one reason for not buying it would, at a single stroke, wipe out all other arguments.

Here's some of the logic one could stitch together to make such a strong case for buying the GTD.

The 2-litre diesel engine is powerful (184bhp), there was a stirring surge of sprint when I jammed down the right foot. It was nonetheless economical and a simply lovely motor to nonchalantly drive around town in or tootle along on the high road.

It had phenomenal pulling power – torque – as a winding, wonderful autumn/winter drive to the environs of Glendalough showed to best effect. This pulled no problem at 1,300rpm in fourth gear. With three adults on board and on some narrow, twisty roads I have to say I was impressed.

If you do a lot of general driving, it is as good, if not better than anything of comparable size to give you a consistently robust drive. It is a car of many facets and when you want to step up the pace it lashes in the 184bhp.

The only problem is: it is not a Golf GTi. And once you have driven the new GTi, as I have – and reviewed it for you here – then I don't think you'd want to settle for anything else.

If there wasn't a petrol GTi I'd be advocating this. There is a GTi.

The GTD is really good but not great. The GTi is great.

This GTD also costs nearly €2,000 more by the way, is a second slower to 100kmh but is much, much better on fuel – and incurs €90 a year lower road tax.

It also got me to and from a truly special 90th birthday celebration – it was a wonderful gathering of so many clan – in Tullamore on a wet and windy night when I began to waver towards its deep strength just a little. Just a little (I think it was the gorgeous cupcakes). I was also influenced by how rock solid it was on the road and in giving me that relentless diesel push of consistency. I so love that about diesels. They just keep on going like a train.

Just in time I remembered my wondrous sweep through the summer countryside in the GTi and I was back on track. I recalled, almost could touch, the sense of fleetness and the near-simplistic response of power and handling.

To be fair, this makes a case if you cover a lot of ground every week. The GTi is hard enough on the juice; this has phenomenal frugality for a car of such ability. Talk about being spoiled for choice but ultimately it comes down to this: the real thing or not?

In my case it has to be like the subject of our 90th-year celebrations – the real thing.

Irish Independent

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