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Volkswagens Golf R and GTD join GTI


Have you ever looked at a Volkswagen Golf GTI and thought it should be lighter on fuel? Or that it needed more low end torque? Me neither, however, someone at Volkswagen did and they decided to fit a performance orientated diesel engine into a sporty looking Golf. It’s called the Golf GTD and it’s pretty good.

The looks

Like the GTI, the GTD features a sporty front bumper with the same louver design as the GTI. It does however get chrome detailing around the grille unlike the GTI’s red finish, and LED headlights. At the rear, the GTD boasts LED lights, a redesigned bumper and duel exhaust outlets on the left hand side.

The interior

Inside, the GTD is Volkswagen precision and quality at its best. The dashboard looks identical to that of every other Golf 7.5 on sale today, with the only difference being the GTD badge on the steering wheel. 

The car I drove also featured the top-of-the-line Discover Pro infotainment system, which is jam-packed with connectivity items such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also featured Volkswagen’s 12.3-inch Active Info Display instrument cluster.  

Performance and drive

Can a diesel Golf offer the same exhilarating drive as a GTI? The answer, despite Volkswagen’s slick advertising, is no. What is does offer though is a really good drive for a diesel. It’s 2.0-litre motor develops 130kW/350Nm, and makes good use of the latter thanks to a slick six-speed DSG. Volkswagen claims the GTD will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 7.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 230 km/h. 

While not GTI fast, the GTD’s availability of low-down torque means that feels a tad more frisky than its iconic petrol sibling. It also makes use of Volkswagen’s XDS front differential, making it extremely agile through the corners. Of course, the advantage of a diesel motor is fuel economy with Volkswagen claiming a combined consumption figure of 5.3-litres/100 km.

What if I wanted a 213kW Golf?

As it so happens, the amount of power in question, along with 380Nm, is what Volkswagen has managed to extract from the 2.0 TSI engine powering the fire-breathing Golf R. Up from the previous model’s 206kW, the bump in power now allows the four-wheel drive R to reach 100 km/h from rest in 4.6 seconds, and top out at 250 km/h.

The Golf R also looks really good, especially with the now standard panoramic roof. It features a redesigned front bumper, lights and styling details. At the rear, you will find new LED lamps with a running indicator. As expected, the R gets quad exhaust outlets.  It is however the drive that really impressed me. It’s a very quick and highly capable hatchback. The new lightning fast seven-speed DSG gearbox ensures that the car is in the optimum gear at all times.

In Race mode, the R becomes like an excited Bull Terrier, the throttle is sharper, the exhaust gets throatier and the steering becomes heavier for a more engaging feel. The car also has loads of grip, which gave me confidence on the twisty coastal roads of the Western Cape. 

What's the Verdict?

With the revised Golf R and the introduction of the GTD, Volkswagen’s performance orientated Golf 7.5 range has, for the first time in South Africa, been completed.

The GTD might not deliver the same driving dynamics as the GTI, but it still has the grunt. The Golf R is a brilliantly engineered hooligan with a designer suit on. However, as good as both of them are, I would still opt for South Africa’s favourite hot hatch, the Golf GTI.


Golf GTD DSG - R506 700
Golf GTI DSG - R545 800
Golf R DSG - R647 300

Article written by Justin Jacobs
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