The new 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTD will make its official debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March. Although this is far from the first Golf GTD model, it is the first that actually has a fighting chance of actually being sold in North America.
Since its inception in 1982, the recipe for the Golf GTD has been rather simple. Take one Golf GTI, replace its gasoline engine with a diesel, swap the "I" in the nameplate with a "D," and leave most -- if not all -- of the GTI-specific hardware intact. The result is a sporty-looking and tossable hatchback that drinks less fuel than its GTI cousin.
With the new seventh-generation Golf platform, that basic formula (and end result) remains unchanged. The Golf GTD is a virtual twin to the GTI concept Volkswagen showed last September at the Paris motor show. The GTD gets the GTI's lower front fascia and finger-like fog lamp louvers along with its grille insert, although the GTI's hallmark red grille molding isn't carried over. GTI-esque side skirts, rear diffuser, roof spoiler, and dual exhaust tips are also part of the Golf GTD makeover, as are smoked LED taillamps and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The interior also mimics the GTI: sport seats with Tartan plaid inserts are standard, as are a black headliner, piano black dash and door trim, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and stainless steel foot pedals. Standard equipment on European-spec Golf GTD models also includes a unique shift knob, white ambient lighting, automatic climate controls, a park assist system, and a touchscreen infotainment system.
Like the GTI, the Golf GTD is a front-wheel-drive vehicle and offers a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic -- but that's where the driveline similarities end. While the GTI burns gasoline in a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the Golf GTD uses VW's next-generation 2.0-liter TDI turbo-diesel I-4. Known within VW as the EA288, the engine is also slated to appear in the next-gen Golf TDI, but with a little less power. In stock form, the EA288 cranks out 148 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque. In the GTD, however, VW escalates output to 184 hp at 3500-4000 rpm and 280 lb-ft at 1750 rpm. It still trails the GTI, which is rated at 217 hp (227 hp with an optional performance package), but trumps the GTI's torque by roughly 20 lb-ft. Better yet, VW says the GTD can blast from 0 to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is only a second slower than a GTI with the performance package.
What the Golf GTD sacrifices in sheer performance it makes up for in efficiency. VW says the GTD is rated at 56 mpg combined on the European test cycle, whereas the GTI is expected to return just under 40 mpg. Further, carbon dioxide emissions are whittled to 109 grams per kilometer, which undercuts the GTI's 140 g/km rating.
VW says the Golf GTD should hit European showrooms in June. What about North America? Last year, VWoA executives told us they'd love to bring the GTD over once the seventh-generation Golf launched here, but the automaker tells us they're still investigating that possibility and are far from a final decision. Should the Golf GTD gain a green light for our market, expect it to arrive after the new Golf lands in North America in the spring of 2014.