The obvious points are the cosmetic enhancements carried over from the GTI. Starting at the front, the GTD shares the bumper, grille and headlights with the GTI with one minor exception – the GTI’s red piping around the grille is replaced with chrome on the GTD. Even the font on the GTD badge is the same as that used on the GTI. At the rear the GTD misses out on the GTI’s new ‘pipe at each corner’ treatment and instead gets twin pipes in one corner, but does get the lightly-smoked rear light units from the GTI.
Inside you will find the same tartan pattern on the standard sports seats, although the grey colour scheme gives the interior of the GTD a rather sombre appearance compared to the GTI’s more colourful seats. The excellent flat-bottomed steering wheel is taken from the GTI, with black stitching instead of red, and the dash instruments get the same chrome detailing.
The alloys on the GTD are 17-inchers, although sadly they’re not as interesting as the telephone-dial alloys from the GTI. There is also sports suspension fitted to the GTD that lowers the ride height and promises sharper handling, setting it apart from the other diesel Golfs and making it much more appealing to keen drivers.
Under the bonnet things are (obviously) totally different. There’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel that features common-rail technology and offers 168bhp, short of the GTI’s 207bhp but still capable of 0-60mph in a brisk 8.1 seconds. However, when you compare the torque figures things get a bit more interesting … with 258 lb/ft of torque on offer that GTD actually has more mid-range grunt than the GTI, which in real-world driving conditions could make it the quicker car.
With strong performance you’d expect the GTD to be a bit greedy with the black stuff, but economy is officially rated at 53mpg. Add to that a CO2 rating of 139g/km and you’ve got a car that’s cheap to fuel and cheap to tax. However, it’s not all good news – while the running costs may be low the purchase cost is very high at £21,000. That’s a lot of money to spend on a GTI wannabe, especially when you consider the GTI is just a grand more to buy and still manages an official 38mpg.
Personally I’d ignore the extra running costs and choose the petrol-engined GTI. However, if you really, really must have a diesel hot hatch I’d advise waiting to see what happens at MINI – the possibility of a 200bhp diesel John Cooper Works Edition is much more tempting than this Golf GTD.