Vital Stats

Turbo 2.0L I4
170 HP / 258 LB-FT
6-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
8.0 Seconds (est.)
Front-Wheel Drive
We're something of a broken record on Volkswagen's TDI family of diesels – torquey and efficient, they're really well-suited to the way Americans drive. We put that sentiment to a year-long test with a Jetta TDI Cup Street Edition not long ago, and enjoyed our time in what was basically an oil-burning GTI with a trunk. That is, until an unsolved catastrophic engine failure saw VW yank it away after just eight months. They subsequently replaced our Cup Street with a bog-standard Jetta TDI (in the new A6 generation), but the thrill was gone.

Judging by our brief time with this Kermit Metallic, not-for-North-America Golf GTD – essentially a diesel GTI – we think we could learn to love again. And given that Volkswagen is freely handing this hatchback out to journalists in the States, we can say that there's some truth to the rumors that executives want to bring the next-gen model to the U.S. in 2014. We're ready when you are, VW...

Driving Notes:
  • Our old Jetta Cup Street had all of the sporty fixins' of the GLI, from its aero kit and firmed-up suspension to its more supportive plaid seats – but it still relied on the standard 140-horsepower, 236 pound-foot 2.0-liter diesel found in every other Jetta TDI. Not the GTD. Tweaks to the ECU programming take advantage of a different intake, new injectors, exhaust and a modified turbocharger to net 170 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That puts it down an even 30 horses on a comparable GTI, but up 51 lb-ft.
  • As a result, the GTD is plenty quick, but it's plainly a bit more reluctant with throttle response than the gas GTI, with a 0-60 time of about eight seconds. Despite this, it's good fun, with great passing power.
  • VW seems to have done a better job disguising the GTD's diesel clatter than what I remember of our long-term Jetta TDIs.
  • The DSG dual-clutch gearbox probably matches the diesel's narrow rev-band better than a manual. Still, we're dying to find out if the clutch feel of the stick shift is better than on our recently departed Jetta TDI which was, to be polite, dreadful.
  • Though there's no EPA guidance on this car since it isn't sold here, the 2013 Golf TDI with DSG nets 30/42 mpg ratings, and our brief drive time suggests that the GTD wouldn't be far afield from those numbers. The 2013 GTI rings up 24/33, so there's a huge difference. It's worth noting that we've observed similar-to-EPA numbers in other TDIs even while working them fairly hard, something we can't say for their gas equivalents. Range is huge, too.
  • It's hard for us to compare handling to the standard GTI, because our test car was fitted with non-U.S. optional adaptive damping. It delivered a good balance of immediacy and ride comfort, but so does the standard GTI – we'd just assume do without the added cost and complexity.
  • Pictures just don't adequately express how shockingly green this paint is. It's not for everyone, but we got compliments and absolutely love it. Let's hope VW brings it over, even on the standard GTI.
  • How can we tell this isn't a U.S. model just by sitting inside? The cupholder features a removable bottle opener. You know, for mineralwasser.
  • A 2013 VW GTI starts at $23,995, so we're guessing you'd want to add a couple grand to the base price for a GTD.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      We just bought a new Golf TDI, I love everything about it (except that you can't opt for leather or even leatherette at nearly 30k)! I snicker at all the Prius drivers as I rush past in a wave of torque, which is fantastic around town, and even better in the canyons. But if the GTD were available, it would be sitting in my driveway right now. I almost hope the GTD doesn't come stateside... because I'll feel like a right sucker.
      • 2 Years Ago
      No gray plaid GTD seats? The horror!
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd have strongly considered one of these if it had been available when I bought my most recent car. In that color of green, too.
      Uncle Hector
      • 2 Years Ago
      im from spain and i tested the GTD, just one word: AMAZING!!! Yes, is a diesel, but what a diesel... is faster than many mk5 GTI but "ecologic" I really hope the GTD go to the U.S because it can be a supersales car hahaha
      • 2 Years Ago
      If this car came to the U.S. with climatronic and leather I'd by it in a heartbeat.
      Mike Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd actually BUY this car, if it were available in the U.S. . . . and that's something I haven't said about a Volkswagen since I owned a Scirocco decades ago!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Up GT has been confirmed for 2013 production too. It has almost identical performance and interior dimensions to the original Golf GT. Eat your hearts out, Yanks! ;-)
      Justin Forposting
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a 2012 GTD (white), manual, and love it. I get just under 50mpgd for my daily commute (measured at the pump), can eek out at 55mpgd (onboard calculation), and it will cruise at 134 mph (222 kmh) when there's no traffic on the autobahn (mileage at this speed is closer to 23 mpgd, according to the onboard calc.). The sound and feel of getting to 130mph removes most of the daily stress after work. I have the adaptive damping but can't discern a difference in the settings. The price on it here is 40k€ but that's with tax, so in U.S. terms it would be around $26k + tax. I haven't used the "bottle opener" as such (it also slides back and forth to secure your cup in the cupholder). To be honest I've stared at it thinking it was a bottle opener but think it might not be so good at it. It doesn't seem right for that. Maybe I'm wrong... I'll try it out.
      • 2 Years Ago
      "As a result, the GTD is plenty quick, but it's plainly a bit more reluctant with throttle response than the naturally aspirated gas GTI, with a 0-60 time of about eight seconds. Despite this, it's good fun, with great passing power." Ahem, the GTI is TURBOCHARGED......AB get your **** together.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm all for fun color options, but this green wouldn't be my pick. Ditching the red GTI bits certainly opens up the color spectrum. Black/gray plaid would be preferable (as in GTD) over the black/gray/red of the GTI for me. Here's hoping the Mk7 GTD comes stateside at a decent price!
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've had my fingers crossed for this one or the VW blue sport for too long. I enjoy driving rather sporty and saving fuel... Again VW misses the boat with North America.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Looks like they might finally get on the boat soon, though.
          • 2 Years Ago
          I hope your right, I'd order one... Depends how bad VW decontent the car.
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