Volkswagen Golf GLD

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Volkswagen Golf GLD

1976 - 1983
4 cylinder diesel
1471 cc
37 kW @ 5000 rpm
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
140 km/h
Number Built:
1 star
Volkswagen Golf GLD
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


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.

Economy 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 litres/100 km around town, and achieved an incredible 4.0 litres/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 a diesel-engined car.

Unlike a petrol engine, more revs do not necessarily mean better acceleration, as diesel 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.

The diesel 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 the diesel version was too.

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