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Vital Stats

Engine:
2.0L Turbodiesel I4
Power:
181 HP / 280 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
7.4 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
143 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,980 LBS (est.)
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
13.4-44.8 CU-FT
MPG:
26 City / 35 HWY
Base Price:
$26,900 (est.)
As Tested Price:
$31,000 (est.)
The Waiting Is The Hardest Part



Back in 2010, we attended the launch for the sixth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTD, an event set on the scenic roads of the cult car's natural habitat – southern Bavarian curving two-lanes complete with shocking views of the majestic Alps. We've now returned to the exact same location for the Mk7 GTD that will come to North America in – brace yourselves – mid-2015 as a 2016 model. It's like anticipation gone bad in light of the spoiled immediacy of today's Internet Age.

On the very positive side, while the US never got the last GTD, at least we are assured of getting this one. And it's a better car than its predecessor, and better is better in our book, so the wait may be worth it depending on how rabid you are for a hot diesel Golf. Will our GTD be built in Puebla, Mexico, along with all other Mk7 Golf models bound for North America? That's a question VW experts couldn't yet answer for us.

At our first opportunity, we jumped in this Tornado Red GTD equipped with the optional 18-inch Nogaro wheels that come with the optional Sport & Sound package. (Europe's standard wheel is the 17-inch Curitiba). Plunking down in the standard, GTI-style, Clark tartan-clad sport seats, gripping the sport steering wheel and palming the heritage golf-ball manual shift knob all seemed very familiar, as the appointments reminded us of our April drive in the new GTI.
2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD

Push the clutch pedal, press the start button and enter the world of diesel hot hatchery.

Push the clutch pedal, press the start button on the center console and prepare to enter the world of diesel hot hatchery. Well, not quite right away, since it takes about two seconds for the ignition to get the glow plugs... err... glowing. Even at idle, this 181-horsepower version of the VW's new EA288 2.0-liter TDI is rather less clackety-clack than the company's non-GTD TDI fours. That's a welcome dash of refinement in a model that will most likely carry a price tag of nearly $27,000 for a two-door, six-speed manual model – if indeed Volkswagen North America brings over the most basic configuration.

Lucky us, this particular GTD is specced pretty perfectly for our tastes: Four doors, six-speed manual shifter, not too discomforting 18-inch wheels, and the Sport & Sound package. You'll be able to opt for a 19-inch Santiago wheelset, and they look good in those wells, but we'd prefer to preserve the car's everyday ride quality to keep things practical. Besides the 18-inch Nogaro alloys and 225/40 Bridgestone Potenzas, the Sport & Sound package includes VW's Driving Profile Selector (with Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual modes), ventilated compound brake discs with flashy red calipers, and a bit of active sound trickery that delivers either a normal or throatier soundtrack depending on a sensor in the engine compartment.

2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD

Small, direct-injected diesels really do feel more at home with a good manual.

When we had our shot at the 168-hp mint green Mk6 GTD on US soil, we were pretty happy with the six-speed automated DSG dual-clutch gearbox. But anything with the letters "GT" from VW makes us want a solid go with a manual transmission as well. This updated shifter makes for a much better experience versus any soured experience we had with our long-term 2011 Jetta TDI and its six-speed manual. Which is great, because the characteristics of small, direct-injected diesels really do feel more at home with a good manual.

Naturally, our tester came fairly fully optioned, and the drive profiler came with the added Comfort calibration that's included with the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) and adaptive dampers. This DCC setup goes way beyond anything the outgoing GTD's dual-mode optional dampers ever offered. Of course, the six-speed DSG shift timings also offer both a sport and manual mode – fun stuff in conjunction with the paddle shifters – but we were more than content to shift for ourselves using our right arm and left leg. With the GTI, it would be a difficult choice between DSG and manual, but in this case, we'd go manny.

2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD2015 Volkswagen GTD

VW's estimate for the outgoing GTD's 0-60 time was 7.9 sec, in this Mk7 GTD you can get there in 7.5 or less.

Standard on the GTD, as on the GTI, are both progressive electrical steering and the XTS+ brake-steer torque-vectoring differential. It's a system that now works on both axles, and not only under braking. The electrically actuated mechanical locking front differential offered on the GTI Performance model is not available on the GTD, but honestly we didn't miss it as much as we thought we might. Pushing hard in the diesel universe really only gets revs up to between 3,800 and 4,200 rpm, so the multi-mode stability program – On, ESC Sport, and Off – really is enough, as it collaborates swiftly with both DCC and XDS+. All of the three-lettered dynamics systems aboard work plenty well with the GTD's lower stance (minus six-tenths of an inch), firmer springs, and the steering system from the GTI. The latter is getting very close to feeling hydraulic now, and its quick 2.1 turns lock-to-lock makes for very efficient hand movements.

Power is up by 13 horses to 181 hp, and it's all there between 3,500 and 4,000 rpm. Torque is now up 22 pound-feet to 280, and it's much more spread out than in the Mk6 GTD, served up between 1,750 and 3,250 rpm. While VW's estimate for the outgoing GTD's 0-60 time was 7.9 seconds, in this Mk7 GTD you can get there in 7.5 seconds or less. This quicker sprint time is due certainly to the added power and torque numbers, but also due to 110 fewer pounds of curb weight thanks largely to the new MQB modular platform lurking underneath.

2015 Volkswagen GTD

Overtaking between 50 and 75 mph in either fourth or fifth gear is now accomplished a half-second quicker, and top speed is increased to 143 mph. What's more, both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions versus the former GTD's EA189 engine have improved by nearly 20 percent, with estimated EPA ratings hovering around 26 miles per gallon city and 35 mpg highway.

You don't have a diesel GTI – you have a very sporting, well put together and pretty damned quick TDI.

Throw all of this together, and you don't have a diesel GTI – you have a very sporting, well put together and pretty damned quick TDI. Whereas you can call the new GTI Performance a sports car when all of the car's systems are set the right way on, the GTD at its most aggressive is still more of a sporting little family GT. The latter's attack drive mode is frankly a very separate science from that of the GTI, what with the slight diesel and turbo lags working with the engine's lower and narrower rev range.

What starts to happen, though, is that you become very adept at looking ahead in order to anticipate dynamic transitions on your favorite roads. There is more body English involved once your mind and the GTD's ECUs are working together in that characteristic performance-diesel dance. Those who think diesel is goofy anyway will just think a GTD is super goofy, but people who love alternatives to sparking unleaded fuel will put it on a pedestal as a clear statement: I am different from the pack and you'd be surprised how much butt this thing kicks while going long distances between fill-ups. The 13.2-gallon tank can theoretically last over 450 miles – depending on the frequency with which you use the GTD to kick butts.

2015 Volkswagen GTD

The Mk7 Golf GTD is 19 horses down on a base, North American GTI, but then the GTD's torque is up on the GTI's by 80 lb-ft. Yet the GTD weighs about 40 pounds more than our GTI, a fact reflected in a 0-60 that is 0.6 seconds behind the gas-propelled icon. As you'd expect, there are a number of European tuners who thrive on chipping and dropping the GTD to the point where they actually run like a factory-fresh GTI, if not better. Expect plenty more of that by the time it reaches our shores.

Of course, as with the rest of the Mk7 Golf lineup, it still figures to be a very long vigil before the GTD shows up in a showroom near you, let alone in US tuner garages. At least it appears to be worth the wait.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 127 Comments
      ferps
      • 1 Year Ago
      The 2014 GTI is rated for 24mpg city / 32mpg highway with DSG. It's hard to see a reason to choose the GTD for a 10% improvement. VW could put stop-start in the GTI for less money and the real-world improvement would be greater.
      Joseph Brody
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm surprised at the cost. Considering the premium for low sulfur diesel, the fuel economy is not that great either.
      nocommie11
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like it, but diesel is just as expensive as premium fuel and only 10% of gas stations sell it in Houston.
      A P
      • 1 Year Ago
      Expensive, not that fast, mediocre MPGs and sketchy VW quality. No wonder AB loves it. What is the point?
        Michael
        • 1 Year Ago
        @A P
        Ever driven a VW diesel, A P ?
        Max Bramante
        • 1 Year Ago
        @A P
        Totally agree, AB is a VAG press agency. And as usual, Toyota hater's.
          firecar137
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Max Bramante
          Well look who's talking. What are you? A Volkswagen hater! If you can't deal with Toyota haters why are you still visiting the website? Just because someone states their opinion or points out the bad things in a vehicle doesn't make them a hater. I think Toyota makes some good cars, but I like VWs and I think they make some cars that are better. I've owned both.
        firecar137
        • 1 Year Ago
        @A P
        "Sketchy VW quality?" Really? Have you ever owned one? What do you drive? Anything better? Probably not. Believe me, those MPGs are going to definitely be higher. My 2002 TDI is rate 44 highway, and I normally get somewhere in the 50s.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 1 Year Ago
      I know many of you are expecting me on this thread, and here I am again. Diesel mileage is overrated. My sister's 2010 VW TDI has been averaging twenty mpg. Let me put that in caps so you don't miss it. TWENTY MILES PER GALLON! IN A CAR WHICH IS RATED AT FORTY MILES PER GALLON! I don't care what the circumstances were, a car should not be getting HALF of its posted mileage. We have talked to the VW dealers and their attitude was, "oh, it's fine, don't worry, diesels have great mileage, it'll eventually get better mileage". We are absolutely infuriated, and my sister is seriously considering taking legal action against VWoA. Many of you will call me a troll, a faker, and whatnot, but my sister, her car, and its mileage issues are ALL very real, and the only conclusion I can make is that diesels are overrated in terms of mileage, and their owners are all lying pieces of ****.
        Davidsrn1
        • 1 Month Ago
        @FuelToTheFire

        This is my second TDi, a 2012 Golf, and I had a 2013 Passat before it.  I have owned 20 cars over the last 15 years, mostly Hondas, Toyotas, a few Nissans and Fords, Chevys, and I can tell you NONE of them met the EPA for in town, not even the Prius.  But both of my TDi's SURPASSED their EPA's in both in town and highway driving.  Driving style has A LOT to do with mpg, but having so many cars if I didn't get good gas mileage in the other cars, I shouldn't get it in the TDi's either.  I get consistently 35 mpg in town, and pretty much 42 on the highway at 70-75.  The Passat would get 33-35 in town, and consistently 46-49.5 highway, and I've seen as high as 56 mpg.  That's not to say the some dude's sister didn't get a lemon, it happens, but TDi's consistently beat their EPA's.  Most people who own one will confirm that!

        Reihen6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I have two friends with Golf TDI's. Both of them avg over 1000miles to a tank (71mpg, the record average is ~85mpg) on trips back and forth to LA as their commuter car. There is something horribly wrong with her car when you consider that even the GTI gets 29-32mpg. Your conclusion is rather close-minded.
        Joe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You can't draw a conclusion with a sample size of one. Stop posting this stuff or bring real evidence.
        dovegraybird
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Tell her to stop driving with the parking brake on already
        Bill Bravman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I have a 2010 TDI (manual) and keep pretty careful track of mileage. On a recent highway trip from Virginia to Canada, with 5 passengers and a lot of luggage, we averaged just over 41 mpg. Diesel isn't a new technology, and there's no meaningful debate about whether the Golf TDI does well with fuel. If your sister's mileage with hers is that bad, something's wrong with the car.
        Michael
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I've tried telling you this before, but you keep posting the _same thing_ on every AB TDI thread: there is something wrong with your sister's car. Find a TDI guru (by state, listed below), NOT the VW dealer who's saying nothing is wrong, to find out why: http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=130044 The fuelly.com data from a large sample size demonstrates that her car is having serious issues yielding awful MPG that need to be identified/solved.
        pavsterrocks
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Your sister's car is probably broken. Check out fuelly - in the real-worls the diesel golfs have better fuel economy than the prius.
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        just by looking at your nick everybody knows you are exactly that...a troll, a faker, and whatnot
        Hello, Brian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        If you are legitimate, your sister should have been more insistant returned her car as a lemon. I know a number of people with TDIs and all of them routinely average in the high 30s and low 40s. I drove one in Europe and averaged in the low 40s despite high speed driving and jaunts in the city. The highway is where TDIs shine, with everyone I have talked to having broken the 50 MPG mark on long trips. If your sister is really averaging 20 MPG, there is something very wrong with her car.
        Michael
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I also vote "TROLL." My wife and I own two VW Golf TDI's. She's not even an efficient driver and averages in the upper 30's around town. I average 41 - 42 mpg around town and on long trips, we never average less than about 50 mpg, with our highest being 59 mpg. Something is either seriously wrong with your driving habits or something is wrong with your car. Or you're a lying troll who just hates VW's.
        No.1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Has she changed her diesel fuel filter? If not, that could be your problem.
      Rob
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think the fuel economy numbers quoted in the article are errors. The current 140hp Golf TDI does 30/42 and the economy will be improved for the reworked MKVII TDI along with a 10hp bump The 181 hp verses 150hp 2.0 TDI economy difference should not be more than 2 or 3 mpg tops My guess is that the GTD will see low 40\'s on the highway and the lower boost version will get rated around 45 to 46 on the Golf MKVII
      John
      • 1 Year Ago
      Payson, AZ today regular gas is 3.18 and diesel is 3.70. So diesel is .52 more per gallon. You can do the math for your own situation but at + 16% more it would take a lot of miles per year to justify the added cost of the engine and the added cost of the fuel. The break even is beyond the length of time I normally keep a car. In Europe it is just the opposite and that is why there are so many diesel powered cars. I drove 2400 miles in a diesel during our trip to France while averaging close to 50 miles per gallon. Yes, I did all the conversions, liters to gallon and Euros to dollars. The little engine was terrific and I could not believe the torque. Pure entertainment!
        Mike Killion
        • 1 Year Ago
        @John
        But the GTI requires premium, so it's really around 3.38 a gallon. Also, you're spending less time at gas stations filling up and possibly buying things at the gas station that you wouldn't otherwise. Plus diesels are more fun to drive.
      lad
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's the advantage of Diesel over Gasoline?....answer: Nothing!. It was cheaper at the pump,,,not any longer since the EPA made them clean out the sulfur. There was a mileage advantage...not true now that gas cars have direct injection, variable cam timing, etc. There really isn't a reason to buy one unless you are easily fooled by the PR and believe narrow power bands and low rpm engines are romantic. In which case you are classifying yourself as a FOOL.
        Davidsrn1
        • 1 Month Ago
        @lad

        OPINION: they are much funner to drive.  Show me a gasoline engine that meets its EPA in town, and I'll show you 10 diesel cars that do!  Also, not that I keep a car this long either, but diesel engines typically last twice as long as their gasoline counterparts!  AND, resale is better too.   Just try to find an Audi Q7 TDi under $30k used.  There are 10 times as many Q7 non TDi that are half the price.  This is in part to the capabilities of diesels.  With so much torque, diesels can pull approximately 20% more than their gasoline counterparts.  Oh, btw, did I mention that they are fun to drive?

        domingorobusto
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lad
        Torque. That's the advantage. And there's still a large effeciency advantage, although the technologies you listed are closing the gap. But compare to currently available cars in this segment. The Focus gets about the same economy, but with only 160 hp and 150 lb-ft. The Elantra gets close to the same economy, but with only 150 hp and 130 lb-ft. The new Mazda3 should get similar fuel economy and has about the same power, but is 100 lb-ft down on torque. And I don't believe those fuel economy numbers at all. This is going to get better than 40 mpg on the highway without any effort. The Mk6 diesels commonly AVERAGE 35 mpg in combined driving and get more than 40 on the highway without any effort. With the new engine being more efficient, the new arcitecture being significantly lighter, and coefficient of drag being slightly reduced, those numbers will increase. the gap is closing, but diesel still offers strong advantages.
        Matt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lad
        Check fuelly.com, and autotrader.com. Common-rail VW TDI's average better MPG than the Prius by about 1 MPG, while having vastly better interior quality/handling/etc. On top of the fuel savings, you get the fun of massive torque. And to top it all off, the diesel option is basically free, since diesels depreciate much slower than gas or hybrid vehicles.
        Vincent Jan Goh
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lad
        Simplicity and durability. It's a major reason why LeMans teams have been running diesels for years now. The engine is really simple as engines go, so there are fewer points of failure and they're easier to fix. Because of the way they're generally overbuilt, they have a longer lifetime. The engine in a TDI will almost certainly outlive the chassis. Here in Canada, the diesel is still a bit cheaper, but even if it's on par, I pay less for fuel because my range is generally better (this is with a 2006 Jetta wagon) than other cars in the class.
        wxman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lad
        Are you aware that gasoline will soon be required to be ultra-low sulfur? EPA estimates that is will only add about one cent per gallon, but that's about what they estimated for ULSD. Direct-injection gassers are NOT close to diesels in fuel mileage. Based on official EPA mileage data (and the EPA methodology significantly underestimates the fuel mileage of diesels), there's still an almost 30% mileage advantage for the diesel versions vs. the direct-injection gasser versions. In the case of the Audi A7 Quattro, the diesel (TDI) version gets 29 mpg (combined), while the A7 Quattro 3.0 TSFI (direct injection!) gets 21 mpg (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=33825&id=33832). That's 38%+ higher mileage for the diesel. Diesels still have lower TCO, even with the higher price of the fuel and higher purchase prices... http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/01/hybrids-diesels-do-they-save-money/index.htm http://www.dieselforum.org/files/dmfile/20130311_CD_UMTRITCOFinalReport_dd2017.pdf
        atc98092
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lad
        People need to stop looking at the pump price and do a little math. You need to look at your cost per mile, not per gallon, and diesel will beat gas on any equivalent vehicle. Compared to gas engines tuned for economy, a diesel is far more enjoyable to drive. And, as mentioned by others, when you sell a diesel powered car after 6-8 years it will have far more value than the same car with a gas engine. Since VW has offered fairly equivalent models with both gas a diesel engines, it's pretty easy to see the difference in resale value.
      S.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Diesel? Check. 6-spd manual? Check. Wagon? Hatchback - close enough. AWD? Nooo. Darn it VW...you were so close to capturing the incredibly large and wealthy Autoblog commenter demographic. You would have sold out faster than you could have said "Fahrvergnugen".
        Matt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @S.
        The Mk7 sportwagen could very well offer the holy grail of manual+diesel+awd+wagon. It's not going to outsell the Camry, but it might outsell the Passat.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        ukhondaguy
        • 1 Year Ago
        what has the horsepower got to do with the pricing ? I could say that it is insane to have a more powerful car that cost more to fuel, more to insure and cant be driven legally at anything like its full performance. Not everyone wants to drive fast. Apart from fuel economy the best part of a turbodiesel is the mid range power and effortless acceleration not the 0-60 time which is irrelevant to the majority of drivers. It is up to the individual to but they car they want based on their particular needs. If you want more performance and a higher revving golf buy the gti. If you are happy with less outright acceleration and vastly better fuel economy buy the gtd. the gtd is a very good compromise between the slower tdi and the faster but much less economical gti
          Michael
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ukhondaguy
          Well stated, ukhondaguy. It is juvenile for people to look at only the numbers on paper and you're right, 0 - 60 is irrelevant for those who truly appreciate a real driving experience. One has to consider the entire driving experience.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        The Mazda doesn't have 280 lb. ft. of torque. The Speed 3 does, but that thing certainly won't get 35 MPG highway.
          paqza
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          So explain to me what the torque would be useful for. The Mazda3 is about as quick and gets better mileage than what Autoblog (likely mistakenly) has posted using a significantly cheaper fuel. The Mazda's also unquestionably a more reliable car. So...why would you get this over the Mazda? If the fuel economy's closer to 45 highway, one could make the argument.
          thequebecerinfrance
          • 1 Year Ago
          @superchan7
          @paqza The MPS has a tendancy to eat it's turbos so reliability wise it is not better than the VW. And yes the GTS will get MUCH better mpg than your thirsty MPS. In Europe you never see Mazdas on the road but those TDIs are everywhere.
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Only 30mpg combined? Pretty crappy mileage for such a small car.
      Ducman69
      • 1 Year Ago
      "with estimated EPA ratings hovering around 26 miles per gallon city and 35 mpg highway." Fail. Because of the higher price of diesel compared to 87 octane, that is not impressive in the least.
        Matt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ducman69
        That's obviously a mistake; the GTD will get better than 40 MPG highway.
        ukhondaguy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ducman69
        I suspect that the gtd will have similar performance and economy to the 320d (sorry 328d!) as they are the same size same power engine.
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