2013 Volkswagen Golf GTD: Performance... diesel?
Diesel truck? Yes. Diesel station wagon? Sure. Diesel van? Of course. Diesel… hot hatchback? Hmm.
The answer to that last question might just be yes as well. You see, zee Germans from Volkswagen love cramming oil-burning mills under the hood of nearly every vehicle that they make. One of those vehicles is the ever-popular Golf, and we already get a TDI version here in the States. Still, the lucky Europeans (isn’t it always the case?) have another diesel-swilling hatchback available across the sea. This one, however, is based on the GTI, and it comes equipped with an adjustable suspension, quick shifting tiptronic gearbox, and the type of performance you’d expect from a hot hatch… except it’s drinking the expensive stuff.
No, not 25-year-old Macallan, that’s reserved for when you get into your favorite chair and reflect on a day spent rumbling across your favorite canyon roads. The expensive stuff we’re talking about is what you’ll find at most of your neighborhood gas stations. The car is called the Volkswagen GTD, and it’s currently forbidden fruit at the moment. How’d we get our hands on one? The automaker brought one over the wide streets of the U.S.A. a few months back, and we’ve waited patiently to get some alone time with the oh-so-Green sort-of-Mean Machine.
We aren’t referring to a hybrid-like green either… this car makes Kermit blush with pride. Sure, the under-hood power source delivers fuel economy above the 30 mile per gallon mark, but it also delivers a buffet of torque. Volkswagen is making use of a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine. It’s good for 170 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like much, but the 258 pound-feet of torque is plenty of thrust.
The engine has the typically narrow diesel rev range, which is why the six-speed tiptronic gearbox is a smart match here. Of course, we could take up the standard enthusiast calling point of “Give us the manual transmission!”, but we’d be a bit wrong to call for that in this case. Listen, we love manual gearboxes, but it’s the wrong choice for this application. Besides the limited rev range of the engine, the sensation of shifting a VW manual is akin to stirring a bowl of wet spaghetti. Add in the anti-feel of the clutch, and you have a recipe designed for stalling, embarrassment, and the removal of joy. This is one time where we’re happy to have the automatic calling the shots. It’s smart when placed in Sport mode, and the paddles mean we can still call out gears when the need arises.
2013 Volkswagen Golf GTD: More than an engine, the chassis is just as sweet
We’re not just in love with the engine though, because it’s supported by a wonderful chassis. If you’ve driven a GTI, you know how much fun that particular hatchback can be. Now throw in the not-for-U.S. adjustable adaptive damper suspension system, and you’re treated to the level of handling the GTD affords. The system can be placed into Normal or Sport modes, and the car feels planted and relatively roll-free even in Normal. Sport doesn’t seem to do too much more, but Normal is enough for most folks anyway. Steering feel is pretty direct, and the GTD likes to go exactly where you point it. Add in the solid and progressive brakes, and you have a recipe for low-end grunting canyon road fun.
Still, a good car gets old fast if the interior isn’t up to snuff. Here, however, is an area where Volkswagen has excelled as of late. The seats in the GTD are just like the ones found on our stateside GTI, which means you can expect comfortable support. You won’t be thrashing from side to side, even if the GTD is doing just that out on the road. The touchscreen navigation system is one of the best in its class, and the available audio system is top notch as well.
2013 Volkswagen Golf GTD: Bring it Stateside!
Essentially what Volkswagen has done here, is built a car that combines nearly the same performance as the GTI with the efficiency of one its slow-sipping diesel models. It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s a tease that we only get to spend a weekend with the car. What have we learned? The GTD suffers from just two things; laggy diesel throttle response off the line, which is to be expected, and what we would assume will be a fairly lofty price tag. The GTI price range runs from around $24,000 to up over $27,000. The uber-hot hatch rocket known as the Golf R will cost you at least $34,000 (if you can find one). Our guess is that the GTD would wind up in the middle at around $30,000. It’s not crazy money for a vehicle as premium as a GTD is offered up, and when you throw in the performance capability it helps us swallow that potential price tag even further.
So stay tuned and hope that the next-generation Golf GTD makes its way to our shores. Then you can head off on that exhilarating canyon run, and then come home, hope into your favorite chair and pour a glass of that Macallan you’ve been saving. After all, you’re not spending as much on fuel… might as well enjoy yourself.