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The 2021 VW Golf GTD Makes a Fat 295 LB-FT of Torque

© Automobile Magazine Staff

By Alex Nishimoto, Automobile

Volkswagen's Dieselgate emissions-cheating scandal ruined a lot of things. It eroded the public's trust in one of the world's largest automakers, nearly killed buyers' appetite for diesel-powered vehicles, and cast suspicion on the agencies in charge of regulating the automotive industry. It also dashed any hopes of getting a Golf GTD turbodiesel hot hatch in America. Riding the wave of torque in a standard Golf TDI diesel was already plenty fun, and our review of the MkVII GTD—essentially a TDI with a hotter engine and GTI suspension bits—showed it delivered an even better driving experience. At the time we drove it, VW was still considering selling the GTD in North America, but the 2015 scandal quickly slammed the door on the possibility.


Today, diesels are once again an important part of the VW Group's business in many global markets and that means it's time for a new-generation hot diesel hatch. Meet the 2021 MkVIII VW Golf GTD, which is being introduced alongside the new '21 GTI and GTE plug-in hybrid. The GTD gets Volkswagen's latest 2.0-liter diesel inline-four, the EA288 Evo, making 200 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and mated exclusively to a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. Its output represents gains of 16 hp and 15 lb-ft over the MkVII GTD.

© Automobile Magazine Staff

As before, the GTD plucks its front strut and rear multilink suspension components from the GTI's bin, including its available adaptive dampers. There's also a Dynamic Chassis Control system that offers selectable driving modes such as Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Individual, which can be customized to a driver's liking. When adaptive dampers are equipped, the system will constantly react to the road surface and also make adjustments based on steering, braking, and accelerator inputs.

© Automobile Magazine Staff

The GTD shares many of the GTI's styling traits and exterior features, including the standard LED headlights, honeycomb lower grille, and optional X-shaped fog lights. One way to distinguish between the GTI, GTD, and GTE is by the accent stripe along the hoodline: red for GTI, silver/gray for GTD, and blue for GTE. A set of 17-inch wheels comes standard on the GTD, but 18- and 19-inch rollers are available. Inside, the GTD gets the larger 10.3-inch version of VW's Digital Cockpit instrument cluster that flows seamlessly into a 10.0-inch infotainment screen. Naturally, the GTI's signature plaid upholstery is available on all three models, with each variant getting its own stitching color—again, red for GTI, silver/gray for GTD, and blue for GTE.

© Automobile Magazine Staff

Just as we never got a GTD in the U.S., we also never had a GTE on our shores, and VW says that will continue to be the case. In case you're wondering what we're missing, the MkVIII GTE gets a hybrid powertrain comprised of a 150-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter I-4 and a 114-hp electric motor that combine to pump out the same 241 horsepower as the GTI, although the hybrid has more torque, at 295 lb-ft versus the regular GTI's 273 lb-ft. The GTE's muscle is routed to the front-wheels via a hybrid-specific six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. A new lithium-ion battery extends all-electric range from the last-gen model's 31 miles to roughly 37 based on Europe's optimistic test cycle.

© Automobile Magazine Staff

While we'd love to see a whole range of GTI models and variants in the U.S., we suspect sales volumes—and profit margins—on the GTE and GTD would be minimal, given that the GTI will be sent to us from Wolfsburg. (The new version of the regular Golf, which previously was built in in Puebla, Mexico, for North America, will not be sold in the States.) Still, we're glad the GTI is on the way, and that it will be joined in due time by the next Golf R, too.

See more at: Automobile

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