You’ve seen the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI, now here’s the famous hot hatch’s two less famous siblings – the Golf GTD and Golf GTE. They essentially are the diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the petrol-powered GTI. All are sports flagships of the Golf 8 range, for now.
Let’s start with the GTD, which by the way isn’t a new badge – the first GTD surfaced in 1982 and the previous generation Golf had one too. Under the hood of the top diesel Mk8 Golf is a 2.0 litre TDI engine with 200 PS and 400 Nm of torque, which is 16 PS/20 Nm more than before. It is paired to a DQ381 seven-speed dual clutch gearbox as standard, with no manual option.
Compared to the petrol GTI, the GTD has 45 PS less but 30 Nm more. It’s bound to have superior economy though, as Volkswagen is describing it as a “real endurance athlete” with “very long fuel ranges”. The full set of figures aren’t out yet.
As with all TDI engines in the latest Golf, this EA288 evo series unit is linked to two SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) catalytic converters connected in series. This new twin dosing SCR system with dual AdBlue injection greatly reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions compared with its predecessor, Volkswagen says.
The GTE plug-in hybrid drive combines a 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine, an 85 kW electric motor and a new lithium-ion battery, with a six-speed DSG automatic doing gearbox duties. The EA211 TSI unit makes 150 PS, but total system output is 245 PS (on par with the GTI) and 400 Nm (as per the GTD).
With better aerodynamics and higher battery energy content (up 50% to 13 kWh), the Golf GTE’s all-electric range is now up to around 60 km. Electric top speed is 130 km/h. On paper, GTI power, GTD torque and 60 km of electric range sounds like a good combo.
Assuming that the battery is sufficiently charged, the Golf GTE always starts in the electric E-Mode. The car switches to Hybrid mode if the the battery level drops below a certain level or if the speed breaches 130 km/h. In Hybrid mode, the driver has the option of maintaining the state of charge using symbols on the infotainment screen
This makes it possible to drive into an urban destination under electric power and with zero emissions, even at the end of a longer journey, for example. Whenever route guidance is active, the battery manager also predictively takes into account road and topographical data to ensure the set energy level is available.
As for running gear, both these cars share the same front McPherson struts and rear multi-link layout. The GTD, like the GTI, gets sports suspension that rides 15 mm lower than regular Golfs. This isn’t available on the GTE.
A new driving dynamics control system known as the Vehicle Dynamics Manager makes its debut. VDM controls both the XDS function and the lateral dynamics components of the regulated dampers (DCC adaptive chassis control is optional). VW says that this significantly increases the spread between maximum comfort and maximum dynamics, and the vehicle benefits from significantly sharpened driving dynamics as a result.
By the way, DCC now has an Individual mode on top of Eco, Sport and Comfort modes. Now, drivers can accurately set and store their personal driving profile using a digital slider. Beyond the Comfort preset, the body is “decoupled” from the road surface as much as possible. Beyond the Sport setting, there is an extended setting range with maximum damping for minimised body movements and “extremely direct handling”.
The three Golf variants have different characters and powertrains, but one design and specification philosophy, VW says. Most of the cues you see on the GTI are also present in the GTD and GTE, but each has its own signature.
The standard LED headlights are positioned low and form a crossbar together with the radiator grille. Towards the top of the bonnet is a slim red accent for the GTI; this is in blue for the GTE and silver for the GTD. Under this line is an illuminated strip that joins the LED daytime running lights to form a single horizontal graphic. Speaking of LEDs, the honeycomb air inlet mesh can be optioned with five LED fog lights on either side, forming two X shapes.
On the sides, you’ll find red brake calipers, wider side skirts sills in black and GTI/GTD badges on the front wings. The GTE skips this cue because of its charging flap. At the back, the GTI/GTE/GTD lettering now sits centrally below the VW badge. The roof spoiler is extended rearwards and merges with the black edging around the rear window, making the trio appear “flatter” than the regular Mk8.
All three get a diffuser, but the tailpipes tell them apart – the GTI gets one on each end of the bumper, the GTD’s double pipes are on the left side, and there are no visible tailpipes for the hybrid GTE.
Inside, the sport touches are found on the central spoke of steering wheel (GTI red, GTE blue, GTD silver) and on the seats. The classic checked pattern on the seats have a new design called Scalepaper. The seams of the grey and black design are red in the GTI, blue in the GTE and light grey in the GTD. Red, blue or black are also used for all decorative seams and edging.
Fancy new cabin kit include a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument panel and the 10-inch navigation system. The colour and graphics of the Digital Cockpit correspond to the respective model.
Background lighting, which also comes as standard, embeds the displays and all other illuminated interior areas (dash panel, door trim, storage compartment, footwell) in a spectrum of 30 configurable colours. Once you open the door, the start/stop button pulses red until the engine is started.