Although it was considerably more expensive than
its petrol-engined brother, the Golf GLD was not
only the cheapest diesel
on the Australian market
at the time, but also proved one of the most economical
cars to run, backing this claim up with several wins
in subsequent Total Oil Economy runs (the GLD consistently
recording the best uncorrected fuel consumption figures).
What is even more amazing, the Golf GLD also offered
the best diesel
performance going around, even being
able to out-accelerate the great Mercedes-Benz diesels
was always going to be the biggest selling feature
of the mighty little Golf, and even with relatively
hard driving the car would return around 5.5 liters/100
km around town, and achieved an incredible 4.0 liters/100
km on the open road (and with delicate and careful
use of the accelerator!).
The downside was in performance,
however while no match for the petrol driven Golf,
the GLD could still out-accelerate many small petrol-engined
cars. Most owners came to recognize that there was
a definite driving technique to be mastered with
Unlike a petrol engine, more
revs do not necessarily mean better acceleration,
engines tend to develop more low-down torque
and, as a consequence, can be driven to great advantage
with less revs and higher gears.
The Golf GLD would
accelerate to 100 km/h in 18 seconds, about 6 seconds
slower than the petrol Golf, however it could still
manage a respectable 140 km/h top speed.
Passengers would only notice the
presence of the diesel
engine at idle, the rather
loud rattle being a give-away. However once the engine
went beyond idle, the noise disappeared and the engine
spun extremely smoothly. Starting from cold, a waiting
period of a few seconds was needed for the glow plugs
to heat up. Once this occurred, the engine could
be started normally.
Starting from hot there was
no need to use the electric glow plug pre-heating
device, and the car started with the conventional
ignition key. The engine was fitted with a rev-limiting
device that cuts in at 5000 rpm, helping prevent
keen drivers from damaging the engine. This rev-limiter
worked through the fuel pump injection system.
engine was a little heavier than its petrol counterpart,
and as a consequence the handling and ride comfort
was a little impaired. However, the ride handling
compromise achieved by the Golf was far superior
to the accepted norm. Controls and instruments were
well placed and were all in easy reach and sight.
The large glass area in the neat Italian-designed
body helped contribute to good all-round visibility.
Head and leg room were excellent in the front seats,
however as could be expected of a small car, the
rear leg room was a little restrictive. While the
GTI was undoubtedly the hero car in Volkswagens line-up,
that there were significant waiting lists for the
GLD indicate just how popular and well engineered
version was too.