VW Golf GT 2.0 TDI 170 5dr
12 July 2006
Category: Lower medium Prices: £12,670-£24,740
Per month: £398 Key rival: Seat Leon FR
One of the most eagerly anticipated new diesel cars of the year has arrived, promising impressive performance and the sort of fuel economy that's tempting proposition for fleet users with money to spend.
The VW Golf 2.0 GT TDI 170 is the new range-topping diesel. But it's more than that; there's enough under the bonnet for this car to claim third spot in the entire Golf range. Only the 200PS 2.0-litre TFSI in the GTI and the 250PS 3.2-litre V6 unit in the R32 are more powerful.
As the new flagship oil-burner, it takes the crown from the 140PS version. Top speed has been stretched from 126 to 137mph, while the 0-60mph sprint is over a second quicker at 8.2. Fuel economy is down as you'd expect, but it's not massive in real world terms, only dropping from 49.6mpg to 46.3mpg.
On the road the engine upgrade is instantly noticeable. With loads of torque or shove available from 1750rpm, the car is lightning quick, but the swift acceleration through the limited rev range means gear changes come often if you want keep the fuel economy up. If consumption isn't an issue, leave the six-speed gearbox in third or fourth on the twisty back roads and enjoy the performance and noise. For motorway cruising, get up to sixth quickly and sit back.
Power is delivered evenly and with no drama. The steering is measured and firm while the brakes are sharp and smooth with limited front-end dip. The rest of the vehicle is standard Golf, meaning an easy to drive, well put together machine that will retain its value well.
In the cabin the rake and reach-adjustable steering wheel is leather-trimmed and comes with chromed GT badging. Black decorative inserts in the dashboard and centre console also mark out the GT. Our vehicle came with a host of extras including the DVD-based colour screen navigation system, plus front centre armrest with CD autochanger. That's £1845-worth of options.
The new engine is also in the Audi A, A4 and Seat Leon FR, and it will spread through the VW Group range in due course. Fleet buyers will be interested to note the next vehicle to get it will be the Passat later this year. In the smaller Golf, the 170PS performance means it's heading towards GTI territory, but can't be badged as such to avoid diluting the resurgent Golf GTi branding.
Despite that, the newcomer provides a driving experience that's virtually as good and delivers 11mpg more.