German engineers might have a sense of humour, after all. Because the new VW Golf GTD estate is like the 2-litre Golf GTI hot hatch, but with turbo-diesel horsepower, a station- wagon body and far fewer flashes of racy red.
Imagine ordering a packet of roasted chicken rice, but asking for less rice, the skin to be removed, and a bigger plastic bag so you can carry some more things.
The Golf GTD is still a hearty dish for the petrolhead, though. Its 2-litre turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder punches out as much torque, 380Nm, as the range-topping Golf R (also available in estate form), and pulls the car to 100kmh in just under 8 seconds. It can hit almost 230km/h in full flight.
That’s speedy. Yet the GTD engine drinks slowly – its mileage on the combined cycle is quoted at 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres.
At the end of my 1400km four-cities drive in the test car, its trip computer showed an average of 6.1 litres per 100km. Not bad, considering the load on board (two people plus about 80kg of road trip luggage) and the punchy performance I played with.
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 100-metre sprint.
Compared to the turbo petrol GTI, the turbo-diesel GTD has a narrower power band, which starts at 2000rpm and tapers off at 4000rpm, instead of the GTI’s 2000-6000rpm.
When the GTD runs out of puff and its 6-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 weighs 144kg more than the hot hatchback and is 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 fitted to test car) strikes a pleasant balance between cornering capability and cruising comfort.
The 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 highly effective auto climate control, excellent infotainment, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and a panoramic sunroof. It’s a modern Volkswagen, so everything is user-friendly and well-made.