Volkswagen's diesel-engined cars have deeply loyal fans. Veedub has been offering oil-burners in the US since 1979, and their 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI clean diesel has sold well.
But for the coming year, most diesel fanboys' eyes are on the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI. The Golf TDI returns the diesel to VW's hatchback for the first time in several years, it will be VW's least expensive diesel, and we think it could possibly become the highest selling diesel car in the US.
For the first time in forever, Volkswagen is even supporting their line of diesel vehicles with a dedicated TDI marketing campaign.
So our hearts went pitty-pat when we saw the announcement from Germany that VW has launched its latest hot-rod diesel Golf over there (but not here). It's the diesel version of their "hot hatch" GTI model, known--with impeccable Teutonic logic--as the Golf GTD.
The GTD model is not a new designation, though it's now making its first appearance on the latest, sixth-generation Golf. But VW has offered a GTD for 27 years now in Europe, where roughly half of all new passenger cars are fitted with diesel engines.
Its 168-horsepower, 2.0-liter 16-valve turbodiesel punches out 258 lb-ft of torque, versus the standard 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI's 140 hp and 236 lb-ft. And the GTD can be ordered with a six-speed manual gearbox or VW’s well-regarded six-speed DSG gearbox.
Performance from the hot-rod turbodiesel is good, though not as good as last year's US-spec gasoline GTI. It reaches 62 mph in 8.1 second, and tops out at 138 miles per hour.
It also returns a whopping 44.4 miles per gallon (US) on the European test cycle, and VW diesels often get far better mileage in real-world driving than they do in government tests.
Will we see the 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTD offered here in the States? Almost surely not. While VW is doing well with their diesels, they have a very different image from the hot-rod gasoline GTI. In fact, the GTI isn't even called a Golf here, as it is in Europe.
Given the nascent state of the diesel passenger car market in the US, Volkswagen is likely to take the path of least resistance and keep "diesel" in the fuel-economy drawer and "GTI" in the performance box--and never the twain shall meet.
But we can dream ....