Currently reading: VW GTI Clubsport returns to mark Golf’s 50th anniversary
Range-topping GTI toasts 50 years of the Golf with 296bhp and 0-62mph in 5.6sec

Volkswagen has revealed the new track-honed, range-topping Clubsport version of the Golf GTI to coincide with the hatchback’s 50th birthday.

The new GTI Clubsport packs a significant power advantage over the standard GTI, with 296bhp on tap from its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, and is among the most powerful front-wheel drive cars on the market, out-punching the Ford Focus ST and nearly matching the reserves of the fearsome Honda Civic Type R.

The updated model is due in the UK later this year, priced around £42,000, and was revealed at the Nürburgring 24 Hour race in Germany, with the race track having played a significant role in the development of the bespoke powertrain and chassis set-up.

As well as the 34bhp power boost, the tuned EA888 engine increases the Clubsport’s torque output from 273lb ft in the standard car to 295lb ft, which helps to deliver a 0-62mph time of 5.6sec – just 0.2sec off that of its Honda rival.

Top speed remains electronically capped at 155mph as standard, but the optional Race package boosts that to 166mph.

There is no manual gearbox option, with all hot Golfs now sending drive through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but the Clubsport remains heavily focused on driver engagement and has a chassis that has been reworked for agility and poise.

Changes to the GTI’s MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension are claimed to give a more compliant ride in each of its driving modes, and adaptive dampers are available as part of an optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) package.

With DCC equipped, the GTI flagship also receives a revised version of its predecessor’s Vehicle Dynamic Manager, which allows the driver to tailor the drivetrain, steering and damping characteristics across 15 different settings.

Volkswagen says it brought in Sven Bohnhorst, a senior test driver at Bugatti, to help tune the Clubsport’s steering, which has a progressive ratio as standard.

Back to top

It also boasts a new software package that VW says helps to improve both response and linearity As with the previous Clubsport, the latest version sits lower than the standard GTI and has increased front camber, a tweaked rear axle and a more aggressive electronic diff on the front axle.

The hardcore hot hatch is marked out by a host of exterior styling changes, including a uniquely styled front bumper and chunky boot-mounted spoiler at the rear, both of which are decorated with new back elements.

As with the recently facelifted standard car, the Clubsport also adopts an illuminated Volkswagen badge to go with its reshaped headlights, which feature signature red graphics and come optionally equipped with Volkswagen’s IQ Light LED matrix technology.

There are also red GTI badges on the edge of the front doors, along with traditional black Golf GTI Clubsport graphics appearing lower down and a contrasting black roof.

Back to top

At the back, the Clubsport sports revised 3D-effect taillights and a reworked diffuser with black detailing, plus twin pipes that can be upgraded to an Akrapovic sports exhaust as part of the Race package.

Volkswagen has also extended the choice of wheels for the top-of-the-line GTI: alongside the standard 1-in Richmond design, there are now optional 19in Queenstown and Warmenau wheels, the latter being made from forged aluminium and said to weigh just 8kg each.

Inside, the Clubsport features premium sports seats trimmed in ArtVelour microfibre as standard but optionally available in leather. The cabin can be further differentiated with optional carbonfibre trim details.

The new model also receives the latest Golf’s revised dashboard, which hosts a new 12.9in touchscreen infotainment display and a 10.2in digital instrument display running on the latest version of VW’s MIB operating system.

MIB was first introduced on the electric-powered ID.7 saloon, and the fourth generation system brings altered menu structures, faster processing speeds and higher resolution graphics.

It also adds Volkswagen’s new IDA voice assistant, powered by ChatGPT, to control functions such as the infotainment, sat-nav and air conditioning via a more ‘conversational’ style of voice commands than before.

The interior revamp also means the Clubsport does away with the steering wheel’s much-criticised touch-sensitive buttons for more conventional switches and buttons, and the climate control slider now lights up so it’s easier to use at night.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Peter Cavellini 31 May 2024

Not all Acne and attitude anymore, more slick hair style and branded clothes now, will the diehards love it more or less?