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Volkswagen golf gt 170 tdi
- Frugal and powerful engine is impressive
- Fuel economy is impressive
- Good standard specification
- Strong mix of abilities makes for good all-rounder
- Sports suspension does harm ride quality slightly
- Looks may be too ordinary for some
- Some wind noise at speed
- The Golf is now a very common sight
The Golf is a cornerstone of the Volkswagen range, and offers a large number of variants to suit all buyers. A welcome addition to this range is the GT model, designed to offer sporting performance but with good economy, and it slots below the GTI in the range.
With the capable GTI as a stablemate, VW has created a sporty feel for the GT to mark it out from regular Golfs, while remaining discreet. The differences are most notable from the front, with the GT gaining a body-coloured grille, and a deep front bumper housing large air intakes. Unique 17-inch alloy wheels and twin tailpipes at the rear are attractive touches.
Inside the GT is more similar to a conventional Golf, although again there are some distinguishing features. Standard climate control is a useful addition, while the three-spoke steering wheel has a GT badge at its base. The remainder of the cabin meets the high standard of quality and design seen in other Golf models.
Available in three and five door forms, the GT is also available with the innovative DSG transmission, which uses two clutches to provide seamless gearchanges even under hard acceleration. In this application it also comes with paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel, allowing the driver to shift manually without touching the gearlever.
The added bonus of the GT model is that with either engine option, it provides impressive fuel economy. Unlike the GTI and GT models, the GT can realistically claim to be an economical car, even though it also delivers impressive performance. Few other cars can make such a bold claim, and this may well prove to be an irresistible mix of abilities for buyers.
All versions of the Golf are highly competent, but few have such a wide range of abilities as the GT. Powerful enough to be exciting to drive, sufficiently relaxed to be comfortable and economical enough to be used on a daily basis, the GT seemingly has it all. Although it is obviously less exciting than the models above it, the GT will meet the needs of a wide cross section of buyers.
The initial purchase price of the GT is relatively high for a vehicle that is based on a family hatchback, but the amount of standard equipment and the high specification justifies the price. Running costs will be reasonable, with good fuel economy offsetting the insurance costs.
The GT is just as practical as a regular Golf, with good levels of head, leg and elbow room for front and rear passengers. There are also useful storage areas throughout the cabin, and thoughtful touches like a bottle opener and lined coin tray add to the convenience.
The layout of the GT's cabin is clear and simple, with well-marked buttons and switches. It also uses the high quality illuminated dials seen elsewhere in the Golf range, giving it a classy feel as well as being easy to read. Where fitted, the sat-nav system is placed centrally on the dashboard, making it easy to see. Route instructions are also repeated in a dot matrix display between the main instruments, which is a very useful feature.
Excellent standard sports seats give a high level of support, and although road noise is unlikely to disturb passengers, there is a little wind noise at higher speeds. The firm suspension means that the ride quality on broken roads can be a little bumpy, but this never becomes a major discomfort.
As the GT is such a desirable car, it is fitted as standard with remote central locking and an alarm system, which should deter the most determined thieves.
A considerable safety equipment list including front, side and curtain airbags gives the GT a high level of passive safety, while the addition of ESP helps to control the substantial power output. A winter driving mode also reduces power in the lower gears to avoid wheelspin.
In diesel form the GT offers remarkable acceleration thanks to the high torque output, and it is very easy to make rapid progress. This also makes urban driving pleasurable, as very little effort is required to sail along on the engine torque. The stiffer suspension benefits the handling, reducing roll and increasing grip, although the penalty for this is a less absorbent ride.
A key strength of the GT is its ability to combine performance and practicality, and it could easily provide excellent family transport. There is sufficient passenger and luggage room, and it has the ability to cover distances with ease and in comfort. Indeed, the GT's strength is that it can perform the family role while still being an entertaining drive when the conditions are appropriate.
Although not a challenging or intimidating car to drive, the GT's performance and expense may make it prohibitive for new drivers. The insurance group may be within the reach of some new buyers however.
VW's reputation for quality is maintained in the GT, with high standards of fit and finish throughout. A strong sense of good design is also evident, giving the GT an aura of high quality. The GT's image benefits from that of the GTI, although it feels much more like a regular Golf, and may appear to be so to many.
In five-door form the GT is a simple vehicle to enter and exit from, for both front and rear passengers. Wide door openings and 'suitcase' door handles are a big help, as is the relatively high roofline.
A standard radio/CD is fitted to the GT, which is simple to operate and provides clear reception and good CD playback, with strong bass and a powerful output. Controls on the steering wheel and a display between the instruments also make the unit easy to operate on the move.
Although much of the interior is identical to that of a regular Golf, touches like the smart steering wheel, leather trim and flashes of aluminium-effect detailing make the interior feel good. The fabrics and plastics used within are of a high quality and a robustly constructed.
The GT is no more difficult to park than a regular Golf, with only the thick rear pillars that restrict vision slightly worth noting. Rear parking sensors are also available as an option.
Space saver spare wheel fitted beneath the boot floor.
Engine options: Petrol: 1.4-litre (74bhp), 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged (168bhp), 1.6-litre (113bhp), 2.0-litre (145bhp) 2.0-litre turbocharged (197bhp) 3.2-litre (247bhp) Diesel: 1.9-litre (89bhp, 104bhp), 2.0-litre (138bhp and 168bhp). Five-speed manual transmission standard on 1.4-litre petrol and 1.9-litre diesel, six-speed manual standard on 1.6-litre, 2.0-litre, 2.0-litre turbocharged, 3.2-litre petrols and 2.0-litre diesel. Automatic available on 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrols, six-speed DSG available on 1.9-litre diesel, 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and 3.2-litre petrol. Trim levels: S, SE, Sport, GT, GTI and GT. GTI has 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol as standard, GT has 3.2-litre petrol as standard.
Ford Focus Strong diesels and fine chassis, plain exterior
Vauxhall Astra Radically styled Astra is fun to drive
Honda Civic Space-age looks and strong engine range
Mazda 3 Safe and dependable all-rounder. Styling is a little uninspiring
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