Goodwood Pictures: Liam Bird and Rebecca Thomas
“Did you pack my overalls?”
“Yes, and mine”
“Have you got your jacket?”
“It’s in. Yours too, and the tickets.”
As I load yet another bag into the boot of Volkswagen’s Golf Estate GTD the voice from inside the house comes again…
“What about my dress, can we lie that flat on something?”
“It’ll go on top of the bags and the boots, and the…”
Mrs B and I have never mastered the art of packing light.
The problem is compounded by the fact that on this particular occasion we’ve packed for two periods in time: Now, as in the 21st century, and the other being the period between 1948 and 1966. That’s when the Goodwood Motor circuit was in full operation, and that’s the period the Goodwood Revival Meeting – held every September since 1998 – celebrates.
And in some style too. For three days Lord Marches’ West Sussex circuit is turned into what can only really be described as something akin to a film set. Everyone with a ticket plays their own bit-part role; the racing drivers, the programme sellers, the world’s motoring press, the spectators, the exhibitors… you name it. Hence the need for the correct clothes – or in our case a selection of the correct clothes – they’re an essential. You stick out like a sore thumb without them, they won’t let you in to the paddock if you’re not properly attired, and there’s even an award for the best-dressed. It’s all part of the fun, it acts as a great leveller, and it all adds to the unique Revival Meeting atmosphere.
Being the annoyingly organised one that I am, I’d already given consider-able thought as to what might provide Rebecca and me with the perfect means of transporting our vintage wardrobe, and what was soon beginning to feel like our vintage kitchen sink too. The Golf GTi celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and for the first time it is now available as a diesel (read GTD) estate. The extra load-space it offers over its hatchback brethren (605 litres seats-up, 1620-down) certainly comes in handy, as do the multitude of hooks, lash-ing eyes, and the low loading lip. Plus, there’s little difference in perfor-mance as a result of the extra weight. You even get space under the boot floor to stow the roller-blind-like load cover when it’s not in use, and there’s a spare wheel under there too – much preferred to the bottle of goo and compressor option.
“Our” Golf came with fitted with VW’s optional (£1400) six-speed DSG auto box, which makes what at first you might consider a stretched hot-hatch feel more like a relaxed grand-tourer: the GTD estate is undoubtedly a very refined car. There’s virtually no road or engine noise, the lowered (by 15mm) and tauter GTI suspension irons out all but the worst of the bumps, and driven smoothly but nonetheless swiftly, the 2.0 turbo-diesel returns very nearly its claimed mpg – over a week and 650 miles I got 57mpg. It’s comfortable too. The retro tartan seats – surely a Golf GTI must have – are superbly supportive and infinitely adjustable, and everything falls, as you’d expect from VW, closely and intuitively to hand.
You can of course alternatively choose to drive the GTD estate in nearly the same manner as that of the racing heroes gathered at Goodwood. It’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself exiting any suburban chicanes sideways – traction control sees to that – but the Golf GTD does get VW’s XDS+ system that brakes individual inside wheels during, shall we say enthusiastic, cornering, mimicking the action of a limited slip-diff, and tightening your chosen line. Driven quickly through both South Shropshire and over the South Downs the Golf certainly inspired confidence, especially so when time was of the essence.
But perhaps the best bit about the Golf GTD estate is that even now the original Golf GTi concept is hitting middle-age, VW have resisted the urge to make it look like a try-hard retro-racer. Like many of the stunning outfits that graced Goodwood’s Richmond Lawn on a sunny mid-September afternoon, the Golf GTD still retains its refined and well-cut style. A twin exhaust and a few GTD badges here and there are the only clues as to the GTD’s true identity, and VW have even swapped the GTi’s traditional red grille surround for a much subtler, some might say more sophisticated, chrome one. In a subtle colour the GTD Estate is actually rather discreet; elegant you might even say.
It’s been said that no-one ever looked out of place driving a Golf, and that the Golf is all the car you’ll ever need. It’s also been said that The Goodwood Revival is the pinnacle vintage motorsport event of the year. After a weekend spent thoroughly enjoying both I’d have to agree, especially so, if your Golf of choice happens to be a GTD Estate, you’ve a load to carry, and the sun shines in West Sussex.
Also… I’ll let you into a little secret: If you pack a Golf carefully, even if you’re using it to travel back in time, you’ll always have enough space for your souvenirs. Well, you didn’t think we’d leave without a badge, a mug, a T-shirt and even a new coat now did you?
Volkswagen Golf Estate GTD
Engine: 1,968cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 speed DSG Automatic
Power: 181 bhp @ 3,500 – 4,000 rpm
Torque: 280 lbft @ 1,750 – 3,250 rpm
0-62 MPH: 7.9 Sec
Max Speed: 142 mph
CO2: 125 g/km
MPG: 58.9 combined
Price: from £30,090 (as tested £33,230)
Many thanks to Volkswagen’s UK press office for the loan of their Golf Estate GTD