Golf GTD review, part 1

Golf GTD long-term review

I was not really a VW Golf fan, but when seeing the Golf GTD Mk7 in the dealership with it’s bigger wheels, sporty front and dual exhausts I falled in love with it. A test-drive later and the car was mine.

On this blog (starting with this article) you can follow my first months with the Golf GTD Mk7 2014, not only will I test the car thorougly, but since I actually own the car you will also find out about ownership and maintenance issues.

Golf is a very pratical and durable car, don’t get me wrong, it is also one of the most common cars in Europe.. VW has over the years extended the Golf brand to include almost any vehicle every imaginable, there is no real Golf shape anymore. If you are the negative type you could say that VW has diluted the brand, on the positive side the brand has survived and prospered.

However Golf does have racing clout with models like the GTI, GTD and the R. The first Golf GTI was launched in 1976 and quickly gained traction, in 1982 VW launched the first Golf GTD, basically a diesel powered GTI with similar interior and exterior. Since then the GTD has always been the GTI:s fuel efficient cousin.

In the MK 7 version launched in 2013 the GTD is powered by a 2.0L 185 hp 380 Nm diesel engine, it does 0-100 km/h (0-62mph) in 7.5 seconds. Compared to the Mk6 GTD the car has gained 14 hp and 30 Nm, however the 7.5 seconds is still a second slower than the Golf GTI.

Golf GTD Mk7 with Nogaro wheels

The car that I got has a 6-speed DSG transmission (there are also versions with a manual gearbox), with paddles behind the steering wheel for quicker gear changes. Other extra equipment included:

DCC (Dynamic chassis control)
Xenon / LED lights
18 inch Nogaro wheels
Sports and sound package (red brake calipers
16 inch rear brakes instead of 15
Bluetooth handsfree premium

My shopping recommendations for VW GTD fans:

Driving the GTD Mk 7

Driving the GTD for the first time was a bit of a surprise, it looks like a Golf with some extra racing stuff attached to it. The centerpiece of the GTD is the engine, the 2 liter 184 hp turbocharged diesel is very quick, and never runs out of power for everyday use (and then some).

DSG automatic 6 speed gearbox

My GTD has the DSG automatic 6 speed two clutch gearbox, it is possible to use both with paddles behind the steering wheel and by tapping the stick up and down. Gear changes are pretty quick without any involvement from the driver, however it takes some time to get used to the downshifting the car does when you press the accelerator. The downshifts are often too late if you drive in the normal driving mode, thus manually controlling the gear changes is preferred.

I’ve always driven manual transmission cars before, I like them because you can be exact and also use it to brake, thankyfully with the DSG it’s possible to do this. Even though I think the car interferes a bit too early also when shifting manually.

Driving modes

There are three driving modes in the GTD, Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual. In normal mode the car feels like a more powerful Audi A3; quiet, acceleration is effortless and the car is easy to drive. It’s not that strange since the two cars share the same platform and engine. However the GTD suffers a bit from wheel scrabbling if you really put the foot down, this is a common problem in most powerful front engine cars, also in the more powerful A3:s.

Sport

Then there is the Sport and sound pack. On the regular GTD there is extra engine noise through the speakers. On the sport and sound pack you get an extra speaker in the exhaust and red brake calipers. I’m not a big fan of artificial engine noise, but more and more car manufacturers use it. The GTI doesn’t have this because the petrol engine simply sound better than the diesel.

When activating the sport mode you will hear the extra engine noise, the car is also revving more and you almost have to shift manually to make the most of the driving experience. Also the anti spin interference from the computers are reduced. The steering is also tigther and more heavy than in normal mode. To be quite honest I think the sports mode may be interesting when driving on a track or with little traffic, during normal driving conditions the engine simply revvs a lot and you have to do a lot of down and up shifts.

Eco

The eco mode is supposed to save gas, the power is limited in the car and the DSG gearbox also changes gear earlier. Also functionalities such as the AC etc are reduced somewhat. Driving the car in eco-mode feels more like an average small engine Golf TDI.

Individual

If none of the driving modes are to your liking it’s possible to customize your own, in the individual mode. Here it’s possible to set steering, engine and a lots of other settings as well.

I think that VW has done a good job in making the GTD a bit more fun than the other Golf and similar sized Audi:s. It feels more refined and present on the road, while there is always power and torque.

Keep checking back for more updates about the Golf GTD Mk7, next part will be about the interior and exterior.

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