► Big-booted version of hottest diesel Golf
► Quick, quiet, refined and not very thirsty
► A predictably strong all-round package
Gran Turismo Diesel. A contradiction in terms to some, but VW’s been sticking the GTD badge on the boot of its hottest diesels since 1982. This is the first time it’s been introduced to the tailgate of an estate car: the new-for-2015 Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate.
Bigger boot aside, what’s different from the Golf GTD hatch?
The engine’s the same: 1986cc split between four cylinders, with variable valve timing, an intercooler integrated with the intake manifold, a bigger turbo and higher-pressure injection than lowlier diesel Golf motors.
It gets the same firmer, lower (by 15mm) suspension as the hatch too, with the mildest of adjustments to the damper settings at the rear in deference to the altered weight distribution and potential for carrying heavier loads. Although the body’s longer than the hatchback’s, the wheelbase is unchanged.
So is it as good to drive?
In a word, yes. It’s an incredibly easy, confidence-inspiring car to drive quickly, with an abundance of grip and seemingly viceless handling. Despite that, it’s still involving and fun to punt along a backroad – the driver’s not a forgotten part of the equation. It doesn’t feel light on its feet in the way that some warm-to-hot hatches do, but many drivers will revel in its surefooted, planted stance.
Like Golfs R and GTI, the GTD gets ‘progressive’ steering, with a funny-shaped, variable-ratio rack to cut the amount of wheel twirling needed on twisty roads. It works well in practice, always feeling linear and never unnatural in its response. The GTD gets VW’s ‘XDS+’ system, too, which brakes individual inside wheels during hard cornering to tighten the car’s line, partially mimicking the effect of a locking differential.
One of the Golf GTD’s real strengths shines through when it’s not being driven quickly, though: this is one very refined car. There’s barely any noticeable engine noise at a cruise and with two balancer shafts there’s very little in the way of typical diesel quivering and quaking. It even sounds okay, albeit with an engine note that’s partially synthesised if you’re in Sport mode. And as for road noise, there’s precious little of it – unlike the notably more boomy platform sharing (though slightly larger) Skoda Octavia vRS wagon.
How thirsty is the Golf GTD wagon?
According to the combined cycle figures, not very. VW quotes 64.9mpg for the manual, and 58.9 if you go for the dual-clutch DSG auto (which costs around £1400 extra). Even if you don’t quite reach those heights in typical driving, this is still a very fuel-efficient car given its pace.
Apart from being a bit thirstier, the DSG also has a slightly more taxing CO2 output of 125g/km versus the three-pedal car’s 110g/km. VW claims identical 0-62mph times of 7.9 seconds for both ’boxes, though. Incidentally that’s four-tenths slower than the lighter hatchback.
We drove the manual (although our test car was clearly a pre-production oddity as it also had a set of redundant DSG paddles behind the wheel), and the shift was nice – light, easy to guide and baulk-free. On paper and in practice, it’s probably the transmission to go for.
With a 280lb slug of torque generously spread over a decent span of revs, the GTD’s as quick as you could reasonably want in the mid-range and you don’t feel the need to change up quite as early as in most diesels.
Any other reason to pick the GTD over an ordinary TDI Golf estate?
The interior’s a bit more special, with GTI-style tartan seat trim available, and the kitsch golf-ball gearknob that’s become a quick-Golf hallmark. The seats are superb, incredibly supportive and nicely adjustable. You can spec alcantara or leather as an option, but stick with the regular tartan cloth – it looks great and feels comfier than the other two materials by our judgment.
As far as the exterior goes it’s something of a Q car, especially in our test car’s anonymous white paint scheme. Big wheels (18s are standard, 19s options), twin exhausts, that moderately lowered ride height and a smattering of GTD badges are the only outward clues it’s a bit quick, especially as the GTI’s trademark red pinstriping’s been swapped for shinier, subtler chrome.
What’s it like at the estate car bit?
The 605 litres seats-up, 1620-down boot volume pushes the Golf towards the roomier end of the mid-sized estate market, although it’s still a little way behind the longer Skoda Octavia vRS’s 610/1740-litre loadspace.
The loadbay’s almost, but not quite, completely flat when you drop the 60:40-split seat backs but the load lip’s handily low for heavy items and lazy dogs.
You get a rollerblind-style cover rather than a solid parcel shelf, which can be stowed under the bootfloor when it’s rolled up. The height-adjustable floor can be folded into partitions to help keep shopping unspilled, or taken out altogether. And for when the boot really is full, roof rails are standard (in black, to help the car look a bit lower).
No surprises here. The VW Golf GTD Estate is a predictably good all-rounder. Not overflowing with personality, perhaps, but shot through with that grown-up feel of solidity all current Golfs seem to carry. It’s a jack of all trades, and master of most – easy (and fun) to drive fast, comfortable and easy-going to drive slowly, roomy enough to be a decent estate car and endowed with extraordinarily low fuel consumption figures given its performance.
If it’s on your company car list (or even if it’s not), go for it. You won’t regret it.
P.S. Have a look at the diesel Ford Focus ST estate too. The Golf’s the better car – in every way – but the Focus is a chunk cheaper, and just as much fun on the right road.
Click here to read CAR's VW Golf GTD hatchback review.