New Volkswagen Golf GTD 2021 review

The new Volkswagen Golf GTD is fast and fun, promising 198bhp and 54mpg

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5


The Volkswagen Golf GTD remains a very well rounded, practical and desirable car to own. It’s faster than ever and a genuinely good car to drive. However, it’s allure has most certainly been tainted by the public's attitude to diesel, but for those that can look past that they’ll be getting into a competent all-rounder. 

The Golf GTD has long been a success for VW and a great choice for someone wanting to combine hot hatch performance with fuel-sipping economy. However, the UK’s love affair with diesel is over, and with the introduction of the more powerful and even more efficient Golf GTE, is this new GTD still relevant?

VW certainly thinks so because this is the most advanced and powerful version of the hot diesel hatch there has ever been. Under the bonnet sits a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit that pumps out 198bhp and 400Nm of torque. That drives the front wheels through a seven-speed DSG gearbox - there’s no option of a manual this time around, but the GTD does feature an XDS electronic differential lock.

There’s a strong level of standard kit, too. VW’s Discover Navigation system with its 10-inch colour touchscreen sits in the centre of the dash, while there’s another 10-inch digital display for the dash behind the steering wheel. Adaptive cruise control, 18-inch alloys, climate control, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay, a full suit of parking sensors and a raft of safety kit is also included.

It is a little disappointing on a car costing almost £33,000 that heated seats (£270), a head-up display (£625), and a rear-view camera (£300) are all optional extras. Plus you have to fork out £785 if you want to add VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control, which as we’ll come on to, is probably worth stumping up the cash for. 

On the road, that punchy diesel engine really makes it mark. Peak torque of 400Nm comes in from just 1,750rpm, so from the moment you squeeze the throttle you have instant thrust, which makes the GTD feel fast. It’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, but the performance strong point is it’s in-gear flexibility. The engine has a fairly narrow power band - it is a diesel after all - so by 3,500rpm there’s little point extending the engine any further unless you enjoy the sound of a diesel at maximum revs...

Happily, the seven-speed DSG box keeps the engine in its sweet spot for the most part, slicing through gears at the right moment to help maintain momentum. It’s an effective powertrain if not all that exciting - and as for economy, we averaged 40mpg over a mixture of roads, but on long motorway stretches you can exceed 60mpg with little effort, which is where diesel power done like this still has merit.

Find a B road and the GTD is also pretty good fun to drive. It doesn’t have the nimbleness of, say, a Golf GTI, but the XDS differential lock does a good job of keeping the front end pointy and managing the torque going through the front axle. It’s just a shame the steering has a vaugeness to it, which means you don’t get a great sense for what the front wheels are actually doing through the steering wheel. 

Hit Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers’ Sport setting and you get brilliant body control without sacrificing the Golf’s supple ride quality. The throttle response also improves here in this setting, but the steering takes on an artificially heavy weight and an unpleasant synthetic engine note is pumped through the speakers. However, an Individual setting allows you to tailor these traits to suit your preference.  

The GTD isn’t the bargain it once was to run as a company car. Sitting in the 30 per cent Benefit in Kind tax bracket, for a lower rate earner that means you can expect to pay £1,954 annually in company car tax. That rises to £3,908 for a higher rate earner. Compare that with the £431 and £863 those earners will pay respectively for the more powerful and more efficient Golf GTE, and it’s a no brainer for business users. 

For private buyers looking at a three-year PCP deal, the GTD will cost you £455 per month if you put down a 10 per cent deposit and cap your annual mileage to 10,000. 

Model:Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI GTD
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
TransmissionSeven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph:7.1 seconds
Top speed:152mph
On sale:Now

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