Volkswagen Golf GTD vs Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo

Diesel hot hatches offer strong performance with affordable fuel bills. Is VW’s new Golf GTD a better buy than Vauxhall’s Astra?

Volkswagen Golf GTD vs Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo

Diesel hot hatches are nothing new, but over the past year or so their popularity has rocketed. Promising scorching performance, low running costs and family-friendly practicality, these machines are the ultimate all-rounders. The latest model to stake its claim to the class top spot is the new VW Golf GTD. Based on the new MkVII, it gets 181bhp and the same focused suspension as the petrol GTI. Yet in six-speed manual form, it returns a claimed 67.3mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2. We tested it with VW’s DSG twin-clutch gearbox, which reduces economy to 62.8mpg, with still-reasonable CO2 emissions of 119g/km.

Volkswagen Golf GTD review

Vauxhall Astra BiTurbo review

Before VW opens the champagne, however, the Golf must face the newly facelifted Astra. It’s been around for three years now, but a thumping new 192bhp twin-turbo diesel promises to revive its fortunes. Better still, it undercuts the VW on price. So which of our fast and frugal hatches makes more sense?

1st Golf 

In the final reckoning, the Golf GTD takes a comfortable victory. It looks smarter and has a classy, more refined interior. It’s also every bit as fast as the more powerful Astra, and feels better composed in corners. As a bonus, lower running costs and a longer list of standard kit offset its higher price. 

2nd Astra

The Astra’s new engine is a strong performer, while the subtle facelift has given the Vauxhall greater kerb appeal. However, it can’t match the Golf for equipment, and its weaker residuals and higher running costs make it more expensive in the long term.

Engines

Our contenders both use 2.0-litre common-rail diesels, but the Astra’s twin turbos boost power to 192bhp and deliver 400Nm of torque at just 1,750rpm. The Golf’s TDI is shared with other hot diesels in the VW Group, including the SEAT Leon FR and Skoda Octavia vRS. Its figures of 181bhp and 380Nm aren’t quite as impressive as its rival’s, but the GTD’s driver profile system allows you to sharpen the throttle to make the car feel more eager.

Performance

Despite their different power outputs and gearboxes, our two rivals were evenly matched in the performance tests. From a standing start, the Golf ruled the roost, sprinting from 0-60mph in 7.1 seconds – more than a second faster than the Astra. Yet the Vauxhall clawed back ground on the move, using its thumping 400Nm of torque to demolish the 50-70mph sixth-gear test in only 6.9 seconds – nearly two seconds faster than the VW managed.

Fuel economy

Both cars have stop-start systems and long-striding six-speed gearboxes, but the Golf put in a stronger display at the pumps, returning 46.6mpg. It also has a much lower CO2 output as a manual or an automatic.

 Volkswagen Golf GTDVauxhall Astra BiTurbo
On the road price/total as tested£27,355/£30,250£24,100/£24,350
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£13,048/47.7%£8,194/34.0%
Depreciation£14,307£15,906
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,037/£2,075£1,005/£2,009
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,662/£2,771£1,810/£3,017
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost26/£348/C/£3026/£312/E/£125
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£299 3yrs 30k miles£190/£240/£190
   
Length/wheelbase4268/2631mm4,419/2,685mm
Height/width1442/1799mm1,510/1,814mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1968cc4-cyl in-line/1,956cc
Peak power/revs181/3,500 bhp/rpm192/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs380/1,750 Nm/rpm400/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd auto/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/space saver56 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)380/1,270 litres351/1,216 litres
Kerbweight/payload1,395/560/1,600kgTBC/1,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.9 metres/0.32Cd11.0 metres/0.31Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs(60k miles)/1yr3yrs (60k miles)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/22320k miles (1yr)/404
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.16th/25th26th/18th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars94/89/65/595/84/46/5
   
0-60/30-70mph7.1/6.7 secs8.3/7.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.8/5.3 secs3.2/4.4 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th6.0/8.8 secs5.5/6.9 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph143mph/2,000rpm141mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph47.8/34.4/8.6m50.7/36.9/9.1m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph68/55/60/70dB66/50/63/73dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range46.6/10.3/513 miles42.8/9.4/527 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined51.4/70.6/62.8mpg45.6/64.2/55.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined11.3/15.5/13.8mpl10.0/14.1/12.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket162/119g/km/19%177/134g/km/21%
   
Airbags/Isofix/rear parking sensorsSeven/yes/yesSix/yes/no
Auto box/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate ctrl./leather/heated seatsYes/£1,695/£355£305/£1,050/£1,050
Met. paint/xenon lights/keyless go£525/yes/£355£525/£790/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£735/no/yes£855/£135/£220

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