There are no other three-letters when standing together, earns appreciating nods from petrolhead regardless of badge affiliation. The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the cornerstone of performance hatchbacks for almost five decades, and the latest iteration of the GTI is no different. The Clubsport takes all the GTI is known for and turned it up to 10.5. The Golf R still has number 11 in the pocket.
Visually, the Clubsport has a much more aggressive stance when compared to the standard GTI, looking like it is going racing. Forming the striking front end is the redesigned lower bumper, deeper and lower than before. The honeycomb radiator grille looked almost open at the bottom and flanked by air intakes that feature redesigned winglets that help manage airflow.
The side profile is similar to the GTI, save for the Clubsport decals behind the front wheels, and the unique 18-inch alloy wheels designed specifically for the Clubsport, with 19-inch wheels available as options.
Over on the rear, the Clubsport features a unique two-step roof-mounted spoiler, as well as a redesigned rear diffuser that is lower and wider than the standard GTI. Dual oval tailpipes are positioned on either side of the rear, replacing the round tailpipes of the sports exhaust system.
Compared to the exterior, the Clubsport’s interior is mainly carried over from the GTI, with very little to differentiate the flagship Golf. This is no bad thing, the interior of the Golf is a nice place to be in. Premium ArtVelours sport seats replace the Jacara plaid cloth seats on the standard GTI and feature a perforated leather sports steering wheel as standard.
The interior is livened up with the red LED strips enveloping the doors and dash, giving a sporty feel to the otherwise mundane interior design. Volkswagen’s Innovision Cockpit, Wolfsburg’s version of a digital cockpit are standard in the Clubsport, featuring a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display and a 10-inch central touchscreen.
The highlight of the Clubsport is its performance. Featuring the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder found on the GTI, VW has managed to squeeze 55hp and 30Nm more out of the EA888 evo4 engine. The total output — 300hp and 400Nm.
Clubsport will not be available with the six-speed manual gearbox, with the only option available being the seven-speed DSG that drives the front wheels. Although Volkswagen has yet to confirm performance figures, 0-100kph is expected to be sub-six seconds, with a top speed limited to 250kph.
Aside from the upgraded engine, the Clubsport has advanced electronics to enhance its driving dynamics, with running gear explicitly designed for the Nürburgring Nordschleife track.
The Clubsport features an upgraded Vehicles Dynamic Manager that now integrate the control between the XDS electronic differential locks and the optional adaptive dynamic chassis control (DCC). The standard electromechanical front-axle locking differential (VAQ) has also been incorporated into the Vehicle Dynamic Manager for the first time. With the 10mm lower ride height, the VAQ creates a noticeable difference in performance and handling characteristics. The Clubsport lapped the Nordschleife track in just seven minutes 54 seconds — a whopping 13 seconds faster than the regular GTI.
Volkswagen is continuing the tradition of high-performance GTI models with this Mk8 Golf GTI Clubsport. Representing the hottest Golf model (possibly even after the R arrives), the GTI Clubsport is set-up to be an over-achieving hot hatch with racing pedigree, set to take on the likes of the Honda Civic Type R and the Renault Megane RS on the streets, and on the track.