Volkswagen Golf GTD Variant: Prudent rocket

The Volkswagen Golf GTD Variant is an understated estate that is practical, frugal and relatively fun to drive

German engineers may have a sense of humour after all. Why else would they make a station wagon that drives almost like a hot hatch?

The new Volkswagen Golf GTD Variant is like the Golf GTI, but it has a diesel engine, a wagon body and far fewer flashes of racy red.

The Golf GTD Variant's 2-litre turbodiesel punches out 380Nm of torque - as much as the range- topping Golf R - and pushes the car to 100kmh in just under eight seconds. It can hit almost 230kmh in full flight.

Yet, this speed demon sips on fuel. Its declared consumption is 4.8 litres per 100km.

At the end of my 1,400km test-drive across four cities, its trip computer showed an average of 6.1 litres per 100km. Not bad, considering the load onboard (two people plus about 80kg of luggage) and my heavier right foot.

  • SPECS/VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTD VARIANT

  • Price: On application

    Engine: 1,968cc 16-valve turbodiesel inline-4

    Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch with manual select

    Power: 184bhp at 3,500rpm

    Torque: 380Nm at 1,750-3,250rpm

    0-100kmh: 7.9 seconds

    Top speed: 229kmh

    Fuel consumption: 4.8 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Volkswagen Centre Singapore

The GTD is certainly energetic, but the way it accelerates from point to point is less enthusiastic than the GTI.

Using a track-and-field analogy, the GTD performs like a fit young man doing the classic IPPT shuttle run, whereas the GTI goes like a fitter, younger man doing a 100m sprint.

Compared to the turbo petrol GTI, the turbodiesel GTD has a narrower power band, which starts at 2,000rpm and tapers off at 4,000rpm, instead of the GTI's 2,000-6,000rpm range.

When the GTD runs out of puff and its six-speed dual-clutch transmission has to shift to a higher gear, the GTI would still be rushing ahead in a lower gear.

The GTD engine sounds sporty by diesel taxi standards, but stodgy against the sweeter petrol pocket- rocket soundtracks, such as the one produced happily by the GTI.

In terms of handling, the GTD is again less enthusiastic than the GTI. But for a warm estate that is 144kg heavier than the hot hatchback - and one meant for touring instead of tearing up the tarmac - the GTD handles credibly.

Its standard 225/40 R18 Bridgestone Potenza tyres grip very well, while its power steering is direct and precise. Its three-mode suspension (optional, but available in the test car) strikes a pleasant balance between cornering capability and cruising comfort.

Its spacious cabin remains peaceful on Spanish autopistas and the front seats are comfortable. The retro tartan cloth upholstery is lovely, albeit more so in aesthetics than texture.

The Golf's equipment includes a highly effective auto climate control, excellent infotainment, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and a panoramic sunroof. It is a modern Volkswagen, so everything is user-friendly and well-made.

The new Golf Variant arrives in Singapore this month, with the GTD version expected to be available upon order.

•The writer is the editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'Prudent rocket'. Print Edition | Subscribe