The Volkswagen Golf GTD has all the style of the legendary GTI model but with a more efficient diesel engine. Now, for the first time, the GTD badging goes on the boot of a Golf Estate - and a brilliant C-segment all-rounder is created in the process. Sadly for Irish buyers, there's a rather large catch...
In the Metal:
Little to complain about with the looks of the Golf GTD Estate, as - if anything - from the front it looks slightly more aggressive than even the hot R model (launched at the same time as the GTD). This is thanks to the same honeycomb lower grille and stylised bumper that you'd find on a GTD hatch. Indeed, the GTD Estate is largely identical to its sibling in terms of styling and equipment, save for the obvious addition of extra bodywork aft of the C-pillar. Fans of under-the-radar GTD styling can drink in the standard 18-inch Nogaro alloy wheels (19-inch Santiago rims are available), smoked rear light clusters, twin tailpipes, beefy rear bumper, black roof rails and the subtly flared sills.
The interior takes its cues from classic GTI signifiers, such as the golf ball gear knob on six-speed manual cars and the Jacara black and white tartan seats. The warm GTD model is no less capacious within than a standard Golf Estate, with plenty of room in the back for three adults and a goliath boot of 605- to 1,620 litres' capacity. A good driving position can be easily attained even without electrically operated seats, while the fit and finish of everything is beautiful and solid; the flat-bottomed steering wheel not only looks great but feels pleasingly chunky in your hands too.
Umm... the Golf GTD Estate drives pretty much identically to the hatchback, which is to say very nicely indeed. There is precious little to tell you that you're lugging around an extra 70kg at the back and the mildly rejigged rear suspension never makes its presence felt. The GTD has a firm but comfortable ride, although we'd suggest that optioning up the wheels to 19s might not do it any favours. It teams this to a high degree of body control that makes hustling it about the place reasonably fun, if not the most laugh-out-loud load-lugger you'll drive. That's because the progressive steering, which weights up in Sport mode, doesn't have much in the way of feel and the diesel engine never sounds superb. In an un-diesel-like fashion, it does like to rev, though, while the wide torque band situated low down the range makes it easy to access the Volkswagen's ample reserves of performance for the times when you're not driving it like a hot hatch... sorry, estate. So far, so good for the most practical Golf GTD.
We'd advocate the manual gearbox too, because fitting the optional six-speed DSG not only adds four figures to the GTD's list price but it has a significant impact on economy and CO2. The numbers drop from 64.2mpg (4.4 litres/100km) on the manual to 58.9mpg (4.8 litres/100km) while emissions rise from 115- to 125g/km. As the manual gearbox has a lovely, light throw and that classic golf ball gear knob, it's our preferred choice of changing gear all round.
What you get for your Money:
A high level of standard specification is on offer with the Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate in the markets it's sold in, including Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, driver alert, pre-crash protection, post-collision braking function and touchscreen infotainment. The suspension is lowered 15mm compared to a normal Golf Estate while the car benefits from the XDS+ electronic differential lock (which brakes wheels when cornering to try and keep the GTD on a nice and tidy line). Options include Alcantara or Vienna leather seats, a panoramic roof and a Sports and Design package (driving mode selection, red brake callipers and tinted windows), among other toys.
Thing is, given its MQB architecture, the Golf GTD Estate faces stiff competition from the similar Volkswagen Group products from SEAT and Skoda, namely the Leon ST FR 184 and Octavia RS Combi Diesel. Both of these cars have exactly the same drivetrains as the Golf GTD and they're cheaper to boot (if you'll forgive the pun). Obviously, the Golf has the badge cachet and stronger residual values, but even so these 'in-house rivals' look tempting up against the GTD. It helps that they're all officially sold in Ireland when the Golf GTD Estate is not.
No surprises for guessing that the transition from hatchback to estate has done nothing to harm the Volkswagen Golf GTD's everyman appeal. It's reasonably fast and pleasant to drive quickly, while it will return impressive economy figures in the process. Like all Mk7 Golfs, when cruising it's a grown-up and refined vehicle in which to cover many miles and the addition of a shedload of extra boot space can only make this the more intelligent choice for the performance Golf fan who has a sizeable family and who likes good fuel economy. Given it is unlikely there'll be a GTI Estate any time soon, short of the mega R wagon this is easily the most enticing Golf Estate in the range. However, if that's got you all interested, we have some bad news: Volkswagen Ireland has reversed its decision to offer the GTD Estate for sale, due to relatively slow sales of the regular Golf Estate. Shame.