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Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport: the fastest GTI

Forty years after its introduction, the Golf GTI certainly doesn’t need an explanation anymore. For those who need reminding, this legendary Volkswagen was among the first “hot hatches” by combining entertainingly hot performance with the everyday practicality of a sensible hatchback model.

Seven generations later, the fast Volkswagen has spawned countless competitors and a myriad of models. The hard-core, 206 kW, four-wheel-drive Golf R sits atop the (non-GTI) pecking order; armed with every imaginable performance-enhancing substance, it is ready to defend Volkswagen’s honour.

The regular GTI offers 162 kW or 350 Nm and – in the humble opinion of this author – an extremely complete package of dynamism, practicality, quality and efficiency. For those who somehow need more oomph, the optional “Performance Pack” cranks up the power (169 kW) and driving dynamics a few more notches.

This new GTI Clubsport neatly slots in between that Performance Pack and the Golf R, not just price-wise. Maximum power is up substantially to 195 kW but torque remains unchanged at 350. More crucially, its 2 F EA888 turbo-petrol four cylinder engine occasionally allows 10 seconds of over-boost to 213 kW.

With even more go-faster bits (cosmetic and mechanical), Volkswagen South Africa calls it “the fastest GTI”. Its overseas name is Clubsport Edition 40 but we only got our first GTI’s 34 years ago so that name has been omitted here. Like previous “Edition” models, this GTI enjoys a limited production run and unique styling features.

These include new front and rear bumpers with aerodynamic advantages, Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime lights, side skirts and black side decals a-la the 1976 original, larger chrome tail pipes and a two-piece rear roof spoiler. 18-inch “Belvedere” wheels come as standard; 19-inch “Brescia” alloys are optional.

Interior highlights, beyond the solid quality and sporty details of a normal GTI, are part-velour sports seats with honeycomb pattern and GTI badges, as well as a velour sport steering wheel with red 12 o’clock marking. Racing bucket seats for the front occupants are an optional extra.

Mechanically, the Clubsport shines with new spring and damper tuning, a progressively variable steering rack and the XDS front differential for improved agility, cornering and traction. The reduced tendency to under-steer or lift-off over-steer helped this car to klap the Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 49 seconds.

While we didn’t go to such extremes, the local launch included numerous mountain passes, closed highways, busy byways and some drag racing on a race track. With four adaptive drive modes, you may choose between the fidgety “Sport”, balanced “Normal”, softer “Comfort” and a customizable “Individual” mode.

For such a powerful front-wheel-drive vehicle, the Clubsport puts its power down well and will obey an experienced driver’s commands with great composure. My co-driver and I agreed that this feels like a GTI with software tuning and better running gear; but it’s available brand-new with a warranty and service plan.

At R540 200 the Clubsport is R58 700 more expensive than a GTI (with DSG) and R51 600 cheaper than the Golf R DSG. More than a golden middle child, the GTI Clubsport is also aimed at fans and collectors with its limited production run of a few hundred units only being available until the end of 2016.

For die-hard aficionados, Volkswagen hinted at the hard-core, 228 kW, stripped-out, two-door, manual-only GTI Clubsport S making its way to South Africa soon. With just 47 units coming to our shores, best place your order now. Long live the GTI and its many, many derivatives!

-Galimoto Media

Full Speclist
Engine: 2.0 turbo
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Kilowatt @ RPM: 195 kW
Torque @ RPM: 350 Nm
Fuel consumption average: 8.6 F/100 km
0-100 time: 5.9 sec
Top Speed: 250 km/h
List Price: R540 200

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