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VW’s Golf GTI Clubsport: One for the fans

05.07.2016

I remember years back when Volkswagen launched the Edition 35 of its popular Golf VI, the car was an instant hit. The car featured new wheels, a motor and turbocharger from a Scirocco R as well as a few ‘35’ badges, it was the hot hatch to have at that point. It is now a cult car and as a GTI-loving nation (over 62 000 sold to date), many of us couldn’t wait for VW to celebrate another milestone. Well that time is here, it’s the GTI’s 40th anniversary and it has given us the Clubsport and Clubsport S. I travelled to the Western Cape to drive this new model.

What’s new outside?

Well for starter the Clubsport looks quite a bit different to other GTI models. It features a new front bumper, side skirts as well as a rear diffuser/roof spoiler and these items are no flea market boy racer additions as they generate real downforce. The car also gets a new set of wheels with 18-inch ‘Belvederer’ forged wheels that save 3kg per wheel as well as optional 19-inch ‘Brescia’ type wheels.

 What’s new inside?

The car comes with the standardVienna leather sports seats however sport bucket seats can be ordered as an option. There is also a red line running across the seatbelts while the rest of the interior features checkered black accents. The best part of the interior though is the Velour trim around the gear lever and steering wheel which looks decidedly sporty. The level of quality inside is impeccable too, as is expected.

 

More power

This is the post powerful production GTI ever with 195kW/350Nm on tap while a boost mode allows for around 10 seconds or so where the car produces 213kW/380Nm. This means that the Clubsport will get to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 249 km/h. VW claim that the 2.0 litre motor in this Clubsport is based on that from the Golf 7 R meaning that it has a modified cylinder head, exhaust valves, valves seats and springs, uprated pistons, larger intercooler and a bigger turbocharger than the regular GTI.

 

Limited edition

Our Clubsport model allocation will be limited to between 400-500 units and we’ll only have the DSG gearbox available, which features a rather aggressive launch control function.

Tell us about Clubsport S

The front-wheel drive Nürburgring lap time champ is very likely headed to SA. Of the 400 units being produced South Africa is said to be receiving 47. This is not only great next for enthusiasts but also signifies that Volkswagen considers our local market significant by providing us with more than 10% of the global allocation.

Handling improvements

The Clubsport also comes standard with a sport chassis with 15mm lower ride height as well as that superb XDS+ front differential. The steering as also been fettled with by way of a new rack which requires less steering inputs, which is good for the track. There are also new damper rates and a new spring layout in the suspension.

Driving impression

The Clubsport is a phenomenal vehicle to cover ground in. Like its more sedate GTI sibling it is very easy to live with but in this model it’s more about driving fun. Taking the car through some twisty mountain passes you get the impression that its purpose is to be thrashed through twisty bits. The suspension so complaint and the powertrain so smooth that it makes for a great compromise for road driving. It isn’t unsettled by bumps or imperfections; sure the Type R is sharper but give me the GTI any day for road driving.

Conclusion

The Volkswagen GTI is a supremely complete car and the Clubsport package is if anything even more complete for the driving enthusiast. The car manages the tricky balancing act of being able to satisfy most performance needs while remaining something that anyone would be happy to drive every day. It is rather well priced too when you consider the likes of the Honda Civic Type R which appears to be its only real rival in the track-focussed front-wheel drive segment if you don’t consider the Renault Sport Mégane RS275 Trophy.

Pricing (entire GTI range)

2.0 TSI 162kW Manual                                    R465 500

2.0 TSI 162kW DSG                                        R481 500

2.0 TSI 169kW Performance Pack DSG           R501 500

2.0 TSI 195kW Clubsport DSG                         R540 200

Article written by Sean Nurse
05.07.2016
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