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Volkswagen Golf GTD: month two
On fleet since: March 2012
Total mileage: 2,320 miles
Official combined mpg/CO2: 55.4mpg/134g/km
Actual mpg: 39.4mpg
Costs: £0 so far
Pros: GTI looks, diesel running costs, practical five-door body
Cons: GTI price tag, white paintwork might be a pain to clean
Read Volkswagen car reviews
First Drive: Volkswagen Golf GTD
Where have i been?
I managed to nab the Golf GTD for a week and have a busy schedual planned. After nipping around the streets of London I'm heading on a long distance trip to Durham via York. After some B-roading in Durham I'm driving back down the motorway to the big smoke.
Firstly my disclaimer; my first car was a Volkswagen and I loved it. So I've got a bit of a soft spot for the VW badge and I was looking forward to this drive. Seeing the car for the first time, I wasn't disappointed. Let's face it, white is the new black in car colour. The car has that understated menace about it that we've come to love about Volkswagen's hot hatches.
Inside, I was immediately struck that everything looks close to hand, it's a good clear dashboard and visibility is fine. Sometimes when you're looking forward to something you can end up disappointed, but that wasn't the case for me with the Golf.
First off I head from the MSN offices in Victoria to south-west London and I'm pleased to note that the sat-nav is really easy to use and picks a good route for me. I'm just ahead of the worst of London's rush-hour so I've got the opportunity to see what this can give in terms of a nippy run through the city.
Although it obviously doesn't have the same high-rev fun as its petrol cousin, the diesel GTD does still respond well. You can drive with confidence in this car through the city. The GTD's regular keeper Steve has driven a lot more cars than me so I do bow to his better knowledge, but I didn't find the flat spot at the bottom of the rev-range to be too much of a burden. That might be my rose-tinted spectacles again though.
On my next drive through London's streets I found myself in a lot more traffic and as you would expect from a new VW, there were no problems to report. The GTD is comfortable and nippy, Steve's description of this as a fast but relaxing car is absolutely spot on.
From that drive I head onto the motorway and find that this is a top class cruiser. The leather seats are comfortable and easy cruising in sixth gear gives you a calm, contended drive; the GTD happily gobbles up the motorway miles.
What did I like?
As you may have already noticed, I like the fact that this is a Volkswagen. But it does offer more than just a badge. The GTD's understated, but somehow menacing look is classic of the VW's hot hatch heritage.
There are a number of small things that add to my positive feelings about this car. Simple things like the way it takes a full set of golf clubs in the boot, without having to drop the back seats, or take the longer clubs out of the bag. There's also room for plenty of other luggage in the boot with the clubs.
The drive across London and then up the motorway, with a full boot and two passengers yielded 44mpg, so there is also very good fuel economy on offer. The GTD has a large fuel tank, so you can attack long journeys without having to worry about too many fuel stops.
Sitting in the 'cockpit' is a comfortable experience for the driver. As already mentioned, the centre console and sat-nav are easy to use and fall easily to hand. The chunky and nicely-styled steering wheel adds to the look and reminds you that you are in a motor with some poke.
This is a car that I think many people would love driving as it affords you good fuel economy and safety, while still giving the option to have a bit of fun. The GTD's grip through the B-roads is excellent and f you're worried about the diesel's lack of grunt, don't. It really is quick.
What didn't I like?
Although I found the leather seats very comfortable (at no point during any of the long drives did I suffer from numb-bum syndrome), you wouldn't want to be too big as they hug the hips quite tightly.
It might just be because the car was so new, but I did find the suspension very firm. Obviously you do need a good degree of firmness, especially given the GTD's sporty intentions, but perhaps the offer of softer suspension options would have been a nice addition to the car's specifications. I didn't manage to drive with anyone in the back seats, so I don't have a report for you on how comfortable the car is for rear passengers but I sense that is something to watch for.
I know this is not specific to the GTD, but I found the sixth-gear a bit difficult to get used to. I've always driven five-gear cars and I confess that more than once I was cruising along the motorway and found myself glancing at the gearstick and thinking I was in fourth - forgetting about sixth. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that and maybe the fuel economy would have been better still if i'd paid more attention!
Would I buy one?
For a combination of good responsive fun and sensible fuel economy, this car should be high on your shopping list. It is a diesel, so there is a different kind of performance to petrol-powered cars, but its lag is not as noticeable as it is in many diesel cars.
Overall this is not as potent as the GTI, but it was never likely to be. Even if it's not a pure one, it is still a good VW hot-hatch and if you are interested in something that won't cost you a fortune in fuel, but still gives you some degree of fun, then I think this is definitely a car to consider.
If I was in the market for a new car, this would definitely be on my list. As an all-rounder, the GTD delivers brilliantly for me. In the end, the decision if you can take a diesel hot hatch serioiusly comes down to your thoughts and feelings towards diesel-powered cars. It's a matter of taste but for me, with my inclination towards Volkswagen cars, i found it hard to fault.
Volkswagen Golf GTD: final report
Volkswagen Golf GTD: month four
Volkswagen Golf GTD: month three
Volkswagen Golf GTD: month two (this review)
Volkswagen Golf GTD: month one
Volkswagen Golf GTD: arrival
Read Volkswagen car reviews
First Drive: Volkswagen Golf GTD
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