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First drive: Sports diesel back in VW Golf stable

Sports oiler: Golf GTD undercuts equivalent five-door Golf GTI in both price and consumption, but not pace.

VW launches GTD nameplate with familiar Golf GTI-inspired sports diesel outlook

10 Jun 2010

VOLKSWAGEN has reloaded its Golf driving range and returned a high-performance diesel hatch to the Australian market, this time in sixth-generation guise and with a GTD nameplate that draws closer links with its famous GTI stablemate.

Succeeding the GT Sport TDI and still a unique model in the small-car segment, the five-door Golf GTD was launched in Tasmania this week with a $39,290 starting price for the six-speed manual, with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox with shift paddles adding $2500.

This is a lower retail price than expected, slotting underneath the GTI five-door, which is priced from $40,490, and looks to maximise rather than cannibalise sales between the two sporting petrol and diesel models.

Volkswagen will also be hoping the GTD can lift its overall diesel outlook, with sales across the entire brand down from half to about 40 per cent in 2010.

A three-door model is unavailable on the GTD, while the GTI offers it from $38,990 (plus statutory and dealer charges). At launch in September 2007, the previous GT Sport TDI was priced from $37,490.

First shown at the Leipzig motor show in March 2009 and available in Europe since last year, the GTD has the same basic ingredients as the previous model, blending a muscular and frugal diesel engine with GTI running gear and aesthetics.

As before, the ‘diesel GTI’ relies on 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve direct-injection common-rail four-cylinder engine that produces an identical 125kW of power at 4200rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1750-2500rpm.

Driving through the front wheels, the Euro 5-compliant engine can send the GTD from 0-100km/h in a claimed 8.1 seconds – one tenth of a second quicker than before – with either the manual or DSG gearbox.

Tipping the scales at 1360kg for the manual (DSG adds 20kg), the GTD is around 30kg lighter than the previous-generation GT TDI, but still remains outside the league of the current GTI, which uses a 155kW/280Nm 2.0-litre TSI turbo-petrol engine and is claimed to race to 100 clicks with either gearbox in 6.9 seconds.

The GTI still cannot, however, match the hot diesel on environmental grounds, with the GTD manual consuming 5.5 litres per 100km combined according to the ADR 81/02 standard (DSG: 5.8L/100km), and emitting 145 grams per kilometre of CO2 (DSG: 152g/km).

3 center imageOn that score, the GTI returns 7.7L/100km with the manual (DSG: 7.6L/100km) and 180g/km (DSG: 178g/km). The previous GT Sport TDI was a lighter shade of green than the GTD, too, returning 6.6L/100km and 174g/km (manual) and 6.3L/100km and 168g/km (DSG).

Volkswagen also claims the GTD has a fuel range of up to 1000km from its 55-litre tank.

As was the case with the previous GT Sport, the GTD comes with a full load of features that coincide with the GTI, including sports suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels on 225-section tyres, GTI-inspired cosmetic enhancements, and a host of sports interior treatments.

GTI-like, the GTD’s rear four-link suspension is lowered 15mm compared to regular Golf models, and the springs, dampers and rear stabiliser bar have all come in for specific sports-diesel tuning.

Up front, the MacPherson strut suspension is also 15mm closer to the road, which is not quite as aggressive as in the GTI, which is lowered 22mm. Both have the same front and rear track, at 1533mm and 1514mm respectively.

Further improving the sporting diesel’s handling is the standard fitment (as it is on GTI) of the XDL electronic transverse differential lock.

Volkswagen’s Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC) is also available as a $1500 option, offering automatic electronic variable damping, three driver-selectable modes – normal, sport and comfort – and working in tandem with the electro-mechanical power-assisted rack and pinion steering.

The all-disc (including ventilated rear) braking package is identical, although the red-painted callipers remain a GTI trait.

As well as honed handling properties, the GTD should also be more refined than the previous model, with acoustic measures brought with the new generation including a damping film in the windshield, an “extensive noise-attenuation package” and “aero-acoustic finetuning of the body”.

As such, Volkswagen claims the GTD is one of the quietest diesels in the small-car class.

As well as a lowered stance, the GTD and GTI use the same headlights and bumper design (incorporated with standard front foglights that have a programmable static cornering light function), while the grille has the same construction and honeycomb filling but features a chrome – rather than red – horizontal bar.

At the rear, the GTD has smoked tail-lights, a modified diffuser and twin chrome tailpipes. The 17-inch alloy wheels are also in a ‘Seattle’ design, whereas the GTI sticks with ‘Denver’.

Inside, the heavily bolstered black front sports seats are identical in shape to the ones used in the GTI but, again, red is foregone for a light grey colour in the diamond stripe pattern.

The driver is also handed a three-spoke leather-wrapped flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, a similarly leather-clad park brake and gearshift surround (all with decorative stitching), while the instrument and door trim areas are finished with gloss-black accents.

Other detailing of note includes chrome bezels on select switchgear, black rooflining, black pillar trim and aluminium pedals.

The same high level of standard equipment common to all Golfs is standard on the GTD, including electronic stability control, electronic differential lock, ASR anti-slip regulation, hill-start assist (for DSG models), ABS brakes with brake assist (BA) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), seven airbags (dual front, driver’s knee, front side and front and rear curtain airbags), remote central locking (with deadlocks), heat-insulating tinted glass, automatic climate-control air-conditioning (dual-zone in this case), automatic headlights, a trip computer, and an eight-speaker six-CD MP3-compatible stereo with 6.5-inch touchscreen display.

As with the GTI, there is also an alarm, low-tyre-pressure indicator, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and, alas, a space-saver spare wheel.

The options list is comprehensive, running to metallic/pearl effect paint ($500), an electric glass sunroof ($1900), Vancouver 18-inch alloy wheels ($1200), a Dynaudio Excite 300-Watt stereo ($1300), satellite-navigation ($2500), rearview camera ($500), park assist ($1400), MDI media device interface ($270), Vienna leather upholstery ($3300), electric driver’s seat ($600), and bi-Xenon headlights with a cornering function, automatic self-levelling and washers ($2000).

The GTD joins the Mk6 Golf hatch range, which was first released here in February 2009, before being joined by three- and five-door GTI models last October and Australia’s first Golf wagon in February.

VFACTS figures released earlier this month show that Golf sales are running strong, up 21.8 per cent which is in line with the overall market (up 22 per cent year to date).

Last month, Volkswagen shifted almost 1500 of them, to be easily the most popular European or European-sourced small car on the Australian market.

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