PH Fleet


Monday 26th March 2012


Fuel economy niggles prompt us to try out a Golf GTD

If there's one thing that has irked those members of the PH team who have driven the PH Fleet Golf GTI Edition 35, it's been fuel economy. We know that being a keen PHer is often about not caring too much about how much fossil-juice you're getting through - you only need to look at the numbers Garlick gets from his Lexus LS400 and Chimaera to realise that - but there are some cars you just expect that bit more from.

Our Edition 35 meets its diesel cousin
Our Edition 35 meets its diesel cousin
The Edition 35 seems to be one of those. Even to us, hot hatches still have to be a little bit sensible - they are often a daily driver, after all - and the Golf just doesn't quite match up to expectations. Even tickling the throttle on longer journeys we're lucky to muster anything better than an mpg figure in the high 20s, and even the official combined economy figure suggests 34.9mpg is the best you're going to get.

Engine talk
Initially we thought that this would be because the Edition 35, like the Golf R, uses the older EA113 engine (you may recognise it from such VWs as the Mk5 Golf GTI) rather than the EA888 of the Mk6 Golf GTI. But the older engine isn't actually less efficient than its EA888 stablemate if you take into account the increase in power. When we got the (not so) trusty PH calculator out, you see, we realised that the Edition 35's extra 25hp corresponds to an additional 11.9 per cent in power, for a an increase in fuel consumption of 10.8 per cent. So you could (just about) argue that the Edition 35 is more efficient than the standard car, in terms of an economy-to-performance ratio.

White: a bugger to photograph
White: a bugger to photograph
Either way, it got us thinking about what would happen if we put our truly sensible trousers on and plumped for a Golf GTD. We knew the economy would be good, but would it be a convincing substitute for a petrol GTI?

So does GTD equal GTI?
The power delivery is certainly not the same - a great big slug of torque (in this case 258lb ft between 1,750 and 2,500rpm) and power delivery that's all done by 4,000rpm or so. But then you expect that of a moderately powerful turbodiesel. You also expect comfortably better fuel consumption, and the GTD duly delivers. Official combined figures suggest 55.4mpg and, though we only managed high 30s to mid 40s, it's certainly a fair chunk up on its petrol sibling.

But there's more to it than that. The whole GTD experience is softer and less focused than the GTI. Partly that's down to a smaller wheel and tyres package, but mostly it's down to a more relaxed suspension set-up. both have 'sports' suspension, but the Edition 35 is lowered by 22mm, while the GTD is dropped by just 15mm, and the GTD's set-up is softer accordingly.

GTD interior does without our car's leather
GTD interior does without our car's leather
Handling differences aside, what makes the Edition 35 feel like a hot hatch - probably more than anything else - is the wide, linear, power delivery. It encourages you to rev it hard, to hold onto gears that bit longer.

No, it's not the most economical way to propel yourself along, but for those rare moments when it's just you, your car and an empty road, your hot hatch really needs to be powered by unleaded and not the stuff that comes out of the black pump.

The GTD is a fine car, though, even if calling it a pukka hot hatch is pushing it a bit. Think of it as a Golf version of the 320d, however, and it holds rather a lot of appeal...

 2011 VW Golf GTI Edition 35
Run by: Riggers
On fleet since: December 2011
Mileage: 11,250 miles
List price new: £31,030 (inc. £1770 infotainment pack and £440 for parking sensors front and rear)
Last month at a glance: Low-ish fuel economy's been bugging us, so we decide to try out the GTI's diesel cousin

Previous reports:
Paris road trip proves GTI's impeccable cruising credentials
Golf GTI Edition 35 arrives, complete with wintry rubber

Winter tyres go south; the Golf proves a popular choice at PH HQ

Author: Riggers