07/03/2012 13:24 | By Steve Walker, content editor, MSN Cars

Volkswagen Golf GTD: arrival

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Volkswagen Golf GTD: month 4

On fleet since: March 2012
Total mileage: 82 miles
Official combined mpg/CO2: 55.4mpg/134g/km
Actual mpg: 33mpg
Costs: £0 so far
Engine: 2.0 TDI common-rail turbodiesel
Trim: GT
Performance: 0-62 in 8.1 seconds/ 138mph top speed
Power/torque: 168hp @ 4,200/268lb ft @ 1,750-2,500rpm
Insurance group: 30E
List price: £25,235
Options fitted: Touchscreen navigation/stereo system with integrated voice control (£1,770), Parking Assist including rear-view camera (£685)
Price as tested: £27,690

Read Volkswagen car reviews

First Drive: Volkswagen Golf GTD

Pros: GTI looks, diesel running costs, practical five-door body
Cons: GTI price tag, white paintwork might be a pain to clean

Why are we running a Volkswagen Golf GTD?
Whichever way you look at it the Volkswagen Golf GTI is a towering icon of the hot hatchback world. The Golf GTD is a GTI with a diesel engine. At least, that's the basic plan.

We'll be looking to nail down how much fun it's possible to have in a diesel family hatchback

For a lot of people, the idea of a diesel hot hatch is about as palatable as a diesel cappuccino. For them, a compact car with a feisty petrol engine promises a sugar rush of affordable, free-revving fun. A performance diesel, on the other hand, has the whiff of a compromise born of a desire for easy-going muscle and sensible CO2 emissions.

What's the truth then? Well, over six months with the Golf GTD, we're hoping to uncover it. We'll be looking to nail down exactly how much fun it's possible to have in a diesel family hatchback, examining how a diesel car's supposed lower running costs stack up in reality and doing our level best to keep the GTD's Candy White paintwork from getting too grubby.

Volkswagen Golf GTD (© Microsoft)

First impressions
The launch of a new car registration used to be a massive event. Nowadays, with the modern numbering system making a new plate harder to spot and the second yearly plate change diluting its impact, much of the fun's been taken out of it.

Despite all that, on 1 March 2012, the old plate change pangs of excitement were back in force. This may have been because a brand-new Golf GTD had turned up at the office with a miniscule 82 miles on the clock and brand-new, never-seen-before '12' plates fore and aft.

I like it, though it'll doubtless still have a lot of people spitting out their tea

The car is white and no matter how often we're told white is the car colour of the moment, it always manages to divide opinion. In this case, the bodywork contrasts effectively with the Golf's dark tinted windows and the 17-inch Seattle Shadow wheels which have black coloring down the sides of the spokes. I like it, though it'll doubtless still have a lot of people spitting out their tea.

The body kit that marks the GTD out as being a little swifter than your standard diesel Golf is understated in typical VW style but there is a roof spoiler adding a hint of danger to the back end and double chrome exhausts. The 'Cherry Red' brake lights are common across the top of the latest Golf range and must be some of best-looking in the business, if you're into that kind of thing.

Volkswagen Golf GTD (© Microsoft)

The interior is as black as the Greek economic outlook, with leather seats and familiar VW switchgear. Rear legroom is fine for a couple of six-foot adults and practicality of the uniformly shaped boot is only hampered by quite a severe loading lip.

We'll be taking things easy until the GTD has a few more miles on the clock but first impressions suggest the safe, predictable and solid Golf driving characteristics are all in attendance. The engine has the deep diesel note but not the clatter on start-up and even short bursts of acceleration confirm that it feels a lot livelier in the mid-range than the eight-second 0-62mph time would have you believe.

What do you get for your money?
The only options on our GTD long-termer are the touchscreen sat-nav and radio system and Park Assist, which attempts to eradicate car park shunts with sensors and a camera. Otherwise, the generous spec is all standard fit on this upmarket Golf.

a petrol-powered Golf GTI is 85 quid more than this diesel alternative

You get dual zone climate control, 17-inch wheels, sports suspension, tinted rear windows, cruise control, full leather trim and a highly tactile sports steering wheel with the 'GTD' legend on the bottom spoke on the standard GTD for just over £25,000 but the options of our car take it over £27,500. For reference, a petrol-powered Golf GTI is 670 quid more than this diesel alternative, which presents customers with an interesting showroom dilemma.

Is it good value? Well if you're after a similarly quick diesel hatch, BMW wants just under £25,000 for its 120d Sport and the fastest Ford Focus diesels start around £21,000. That makes the GTD seem a shade pricey but this VW does come with all the GTI styling accoutrements making it feel special next to other the high-spec Golf diesels.

Volkswagen Golf GTD (© Microsoft)

What's next for the Volkswagen Golf GTD?
We'll be getting to know the GTD intimately over the coming months. Not only putting its diesel performance to the test but also putting the five-door body through the mill and seeing if it can cope with the demands of a young family.

The 55mpg combined fuel economy raised a few eyebrows in the office and if the GTD can come close to that figure in the real world, it'll be half way to convincing us that a diesel hot hatch can make sense. For the moment, the jury is out.

Volkswagen Golf GTD: final report

Volkswagen Golf GTD: month four

Volkswagen Golf GTD: month three

Volkswagen Golf GTD: month two

Volkswagen Golf GTD: month one

Volkswagen Golf GTD: arrival
(this review)
Read Volkswagen car reviews
First Drive: Volkswagen Golf GTD
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