The Golf GTD came out tops in its first head to head clash with the Mazda3 Sport. Ian Robertson now tests the DSG automatic version to find out if it’s just as good
Volkswagen’s highly acclaimed DSG twinclutch automatic gearbox has gone down a storm, thanks to its super smooth action, and the fact that it does away with the power-sapping torque converter that cripples economy on conventional automatics, compared to their manual gearbox counterparts. Having driven Volkswagen’s new Golf GTD last month with a manual gearbox, how does the DSG automatic version stack up?
For those unfamiliar with the GTD moniker, the formula is simple. Take a Golf GTI, insert a 168bhp, 2.0-litre TDI common-rail engine under the bonnet and swap the GTI badge for a GTD one – job done. Actually, there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s the crux of the matter. The GTD gets a different style of tartan trim for the seats, and set of newly designed alloy wheels. And where there’s a red stripe on the front of the GTI, the GTD adopts a more subtle look, with chrome adorning the nose. Inside, the GTD builds on the already top notch environment that is the Golf Mark VI. The improvements made earlier this year have lifted the Golf high above any other mid-sized hatchback, and that is why we awarded it the Best Medium Car in the What Diesel Car of the Year awards 2009. While many may say that the interior is on the bland side, you can’t get away from the fact that it is solidly built, with top quality materials and a logical and pleasing layout. What more could you ask for? The flat-bottomed steering wheel is fantastic to hold, and the tartan trimmed sports seats hug your figure, ensuring that you stay firmly seated throughout the whole performance.
Out on the road, the GTD handles like it’s on rails, with great composure and almost endless amounts of grip. Our test car came fitted with the optional adaptive suspension which allows you to choose between comfort, sport and normal, so there really is a set-up for every driving style. The steering is communicative and well weighted, seemingly egging you on to drive in a more demanding fashion. The 2.0-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine is a real gem, with punchy performance right through the rev range, and while the engine itself is refined and quiet, the exhaust note has a fantastic sporty note, which rewards liberal use of the loud pedal.
Normally, this level of performance and deep seated satisfaction will have drawbacks in the wallet, but not with the DSG automatic gearbox. Fuel economy is decent at 50.4mpg on the combined cycle, while CO2 emissions are pegged at 147g/km, which means that the annual tax disc will cost £125 per year. Compare this to the fullfat, high cholesterol GTI at 38.2mpg and 173g/km and you’ll see what a highly competitive package the GTD is. But, is it better in automatic guise? Well yes, we reckon it is, but hot-hatch purists might not agree.
RIVALS: Audi A3 2.0 TDI S line S tronic, SEAT Leon FR 2.0 TDI CR Auto, Volvo C30 D5 R-Design SE Auto
- Engine: 1968cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, with particulate filter
- Gearbox: 6-speed DSG automatic
- Max Power: 168bhp at 4,200rpm
- Max Torque: 258lb ft at 1,750 to 2,500rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,500kg
- Max speed: 136mph
- 0-62mph: 8.1secs
- Combined Consumption: 50.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 147g/km (F)
- Bootspace: 350/1,305litres
- Insurance group: 15
Great handling and ride, fantastic exhaust note, quality interior, pretty much everything
SEAT’s Leon FR 2.0 TDI DSG is likely to cost £5k less