2015 Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate review

The Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate is a fine hot estate, but with the added benefit of reasonable running costs. We find out what it's like to drive on UK roads...

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John Howell
08 October 2015

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate review

Life is full of challenges. What if, for example, you yearn for a hot hatch, but your head says you need the economy of a diesel? Or, your ‘significant other’ tells you that family life will require more space than a hatchback can muster? Well, fret not, because there are several options for you to consider.

You could buy this new Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate. It uses an 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine to deliver 0-62mph in under eight seconds but driven more sedately, it still claims to return an average fuel economy of 64.2mpg. The boot is a useful 605 litres as well, which in real terms means you can cram at least one more large suitcase in the back than would be the case in a Golf hatchback.

There are two existing fast diesel estates to throw into the mix as well: the Seat Leon ST 2.0 184 FR or the Ford Focus ST Diesel Estate. The Leon uses the same engine as the Golf, so performance and fuel economy are very similar. The Focus lags behind them both on acceleration but has lower CO2 emissions that make it the cheapest option for company car buyers.

If you look at their list prices, the Golf GTD Estate seems expensive at £28,285; that’s £890 more than a Focus in top specification ST3 trim, and £3945 more than the Leon. However, dig a little deeper and the extra equipment you get helps to balance the books.

The GTD comes with sat-nav, adaptive cruise control and city braking assist, none of which are on its rivals. You also get 18in alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension, a more aggressive-looking body kit and heated sports seats to differentiate the GTD over humbler Golfs.

What’s the Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI GTD Estate like to drive?

The Golf’s engine delivers some prodigious shove, but it builds relatively smoothly from 1800rpm and continues to pull well beyond 4000rpm. In the wet it’s still prone to spinning its front wheels – when it does you get the occasional thump from the front axle as the tyres fight for grip – but still, it’s far more useable than the brusque and fleeting power delivery in the Focus.

Despite the sporting nature of the GTD, there’s no disguising the diesel’s gruff note, especially when it’s cold. You can select a Sport mode from the Driver Profile selector that alters the engine’s tone, but all this achieves is more boom as opposed to sounding particularly racy. It is smooth for a diesel, though, with very little vibration coming through the controls.

As standard, the GTD comes with a variable steering rack. In essence, this makes it less nervous around the straight-ahead but quicker to steer into tighter corners, and it works well. It’s easy to keep to your line on the motorway, but the Golf feels agile and eager to turn on fast, twisty B-roads. Sport mode adds too much weight mind, but if you keep it in the Normal setting the feedback is more natural.

You get some road roar from the big tyres, but they generate lots of grip in the corners and the Golf’s excellent suspension keeps it feeling secure and predictable. Our car was fitted with the optional (£830) adaptive dampers, and if you set these to Sport the body control is excellent. For those drivers that like to have fun behind the wheel, it’s playful too, although the Focus ST’s chassis arguably still offers a larger slice of excitement.

If you keep it in Sport the ride gets quite fidgety over small road imperfections while larger potholes transfer a definite thud into the cabin. If you tire of this and want to settle into a more civilised cruise, switch the suspension to Comfort and the GTD rides beautifully; for a hot model that's had 15mm taken out of the ride height, it's barely any bouncier than the standard versions. This is a big part of why, out of all the cars mentioned, the Golf is the easiest to live with day-to-day.

What’s the Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI GTD Estate like inside?

Whereas standard Golf interiors can feel rather functional, the GTD adds enough trinkets to separate it from the crowd. The brilliantly supportive sports seats come trimmed in a smart tartan cloth, designed to recall memories of early Golf GTi’s – as is the golf-ball-styled gear lever.

Elsewhere, there are other sporty overtures such as the aluminium pedals and the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel that feels great to handle. You also get illuminated sill tread plates and door trims, which help to jazz up the interior ambience after dark.

Of course, this being a VW, it all feels very well screwed together. Although the Seat Leon comes from the same stable, it can’t match the Golf’s proliferation of plush-feeling trims, while both leave the Focus in a solid third-place for perceived quality.

It all works beautifully, too. All-around visibility is excellent, and the driving position has lots of adjustment to accommodate most sizes. Meanwhile, the sensible ergonomics make all the major controls simple to use, and the infotainment is one of the best systems available in this class. It’s simpler to use than the Ford’s systems, plus the 6.5in screen is much crisper than the smaller and lower definition item that comes with the Leon.

Rear seat space is fine for tall adults, the only limitation being the middle seat; less head room and a high central tunnel means the fifth passenger will feel a bit more cramped than those in the two outer rear seats.

We mentioned the useful size of the boot earlier, but it’s practical as well. The low load lip makes getting heavy items in and out easier, plus there’s some useful underfloor storage. Folding the rear seats is a breeze thanks to convenient levers placed by the tailgate, and when they’re down they leave a flat load deck.

Should I buy one?

There’s no arguing that the Seat Leon ST FR does nearly as much for less, so if you are constrained by a budget that won’t stretch past £25k, it’s a fine option.

However, if you can afford to push beyond that financial threshold, you’ll be spending wisely by opting for the Golf GTD Estate. It’s not just better equipped, it’s also a better, more polished product, and one with excellent resale values. This, in our view, makes it worth the extra spend.

What Car? says...

The rivals

Ford Focus ST Diesel Estate

Seat Leon ST TDI 184 FR

Volkswagen Golf GTD Estate

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from £28,285

Power 181bhp

Torque 280lb ft

0-62mph 7.9 seconds

Top speed 144mph

Fuel economy 64.2mpg

CO2 115g/km