By Michael Schaapherder
When I saw the new Volkswagen billboard advertising their new Golf 7 GTD, I had to go and give it a test drive, and the following day I did just that.
I have always respected diesel city cars, they just make sense, especially with the fuel price sky-rocketing on almost a monthly basis here in South Africa, and there is always the extra torque factor in a diesel too.
The last Volkswagen that, in my opinion, was a complete success was the Polo 9n3 1.9Tdi Sportline. What impressed me about those Polo's, besides their performance, was that you could get them in 2-door. But, why are 2-door Volkswagen hatchbacks hard to come by in South Africa? A good mate of mine, Coenraad, actually took the time to contact the head of Volkswagen South Africa to find out just why – taking into account rivals such as Renault, Opel, Ford, Audi and even BMW offer 2-door versions of their performance hatchbacks. Volkswagen's response was, "There is no market to bring 2-door versions into South Africa", which is complete rubbish and greatly annoying.
So, walking into Volkswagen Menlyn and first seeing the GTD, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how the stylists went the extra mile to make this one standout visually, with the GTI styled bumpers, modern rims & side emblems. The interior is ultra modern with all the bells and whistles (if you opt for the extra features, naturally). Whilst on the interior though, as neat, smart, comfortable and German as it is, it somehow lacks something, say in comparison to my 2011 GTI. Somehow the older models felt a bit more 'solid'.
After I fell into the dealership coffee trap and had to listen to how amazing this car is from the spiky-haired salesman, I finally got handed the keys and proceeded to make a fool of myself by asking where the key ignition is. (I'll never get used to that). The first thing you notice is just how quiet the 2.0 Tdi engine is. Not just for a diesel but even for a petrol Tsi. And, as one would expect, the brilliant DSG gearbox delivers seamless gear changes, the 130kw engine is perfect for what it is, BUT why on earth sell it as a "GTI in a diesel?". To me, that was the most disappointing part of the whole experience.
Volkswagen lead us to believe that it has some sort of performance aspect, and by no means does it, apart from a few visuals, much like the R-Line range. Don't get me wrong though, 130kw is a respectable amount, and it's not all about the power it makes either, but, when you drive it the last thing that comes to mind is finding a rival at the traffic light or even taking it to a track.
But, despite what I just said, it is a fantastic addition to the Golf line up and we're sure it'll sell in spades.