VW Golf 25th Anniversary 1.9 PD

What a difference 25 years can make. A quarter of a century ago, VW's hot hatch revelation, the Golf GTI, was the talk of the motoring press. But it certainly wasn't powered by a diesel engine.

Back in 1977, the thought of a diesel Golf would have sent shivers down enthusiasts' spines. Yet today this PD is the best of the GTI bunch. The Anniversary gets added style and exclusivity, but the price is high for a Golf.

What a difference 25 years can make. A quarter of a century ago, VW's hot hatch revelation, the Golf GTI, was the talk of the motoring press. But it certainly wasn't powered by a diesel engine.

Things have moved on a long way, and today's technology means that this Golf Anniversary special boasts VW's 150bhp PD oil-burning engine. So is it a fitting tribute to the evocative GTI badge? There's no denying the Golf has put on a few pounds over the years, and this is no stripped-out racer. Inside are figure-hugging Recaro seats with retro red stripes, and a golf ball-shaped gearknob similar to that in the 1977 Golf.

Driving this 2002 version is a far cry from the original raw hot hatch experience, with a much softer set-up and reduced steering feel. But its talents are far more varied. The 150bhp 1.9-litre engine offers breathtakingly torquey performance, covering 0-60mph in 8.6 seconds and hitting a top speed of 134mph. Even more impressive is the mid-range thrust, which could shame much more exotic machinery. And despite this, the combined fuel consumption is an amazing 52mpg.

The PD unit makes an old-fashioned diesel clatter at start-up and lacks a little refinement, but it is quiet enough once up to speed. At £18,640, the Anniversary carries a hefty £1,055 premium over the standard GTI. But for that you get great-looking 18-inch alloy wheels and a sporty bodykit, as well as the exclusivity of owning one of a limited run of 2,000.

Standard specification is generous, with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Electronic Stabilisation Programme. A 1.8 T petrol version is also available in Anniversary trim, but we would go for the diesel and save a fortune on fuel without compromising on fun.

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