Than a GTI but milder than a Golf R - meet the new Golf GTI Club­sport

Nam Wheels - - Front Page -

More than forty years af­ter its birth, the Golf GTI cer­tainly doesn’t need an in­tro­duc­tion any­more.

For those who still need a re­minder, this le­gendary Volk­swa­gen Golf was among the first “hot hatches” in the world by com­bin­ing en­ter­tain­ing per­for­mance with the ev­ery­day prac­ti­cal­ity of a sen­si­ble hatch­back model.

Seven gen­er­a­tions later, the fast Volk­swa­gen has spawned count­less com­peti­tors - and quite the col­lec­tion of mod­els.

The hard-core, 206kw, four-wheeldrive Golf R sits atop the (non-gti) peck­ing or­der. It is armed with ev­ery imag­in­able per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing sub­stance pump­ing through its hairy chest; ready to de­fend Volk­swa­gen’s hon­our.

The reg­u­lar Golf GTI of­fers 162kw or 350Nm and – in the hum­ble opin­ion of the au­thor - an ex­tremely com­plete pack­age of dy­namism, prac­ti­cal­ity, qual­ity and ef­fi­ciency. Any­one who some­how needs more oomph could spec­ify the op­tional “Per­for­mance Pack” which cranks up peak power (to 169kw) 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 195kw (or 265 horse­power) but torque re­mains un­changed at 350 New­ton-me­ters.

More cru­cially, this ver­sion of the Volk­swa­gen Group’s amaz­ing 2-litre EA888 turbo- petrol four cylin­der en­gine oc­ca­sion­ally al­lows up to 10 sec­onds of over-boost - to 213kw.

Com­bined with even more cos­metic and me­chan­i­cal go-faster bits, VW South Africa calls it “the fastest GTI”.

Its over­seas name-badge is ac­tu­ally Club­sport Edi­tion 40 but we only got our first Volk­swa­gen Golf GTI’S 34 years ago so that name has been omit­ted here. Like pre­vi­ous “Edi­tion” mod­els, this GTI en­joys a lim­ited pro­duc­tion run and dis­tin­guishes it­self with unique styling fea­tures.

The most ob­vi­ous among these in­clude new front and rear bumpers with aero­dy­namic ad­van­tages, BiXenon 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.

Those strik­ing 18-inch “Belvedere” wheels you see in the se­cond photo of our mini-gallery come as stan­dard; VW’S 19-inch “Bres­cia” al­loys are an op­tional ex­tra.

In­te­rior high­lights, be­yond the solid qual­ity and sporty de­tails of a nor­mal GTI, are part-velour sports seats (at the front) with hon­ey­comb pat­tern and GTI badges as well as a velour sport steer­ing wheel fea­tur­ing a red 12 o’clock mark­ing.

Rac­ing bucket seats at the front 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 in ev­ery imag­in­able driv­ing sit­u­a­tion - es­pe­cially spir­ited ones.

The re­duced ten­dency to un­der-steer or lift-off over-steer helped a sim­i­lar setup 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 very cus­tom­iz­a­ble “In­di­vid­ual” mode.

For such a pow­er­ful front- wheeldrive ve­hi­cle, the Club­sport puts its power down well and will obey an ex­pe­ri­enced driver’s com­mands with great com­po­sure. Af­ter hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters at var­i­ous speeds, 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 N$600,000 the new Club­sport is N$110,000 more ex­pen­sive than a GTI (with DSG) but only N$30,000 cheaper than the Golf R DSG.

More than a golden mid­dle child, the 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 those die-hard GTI afi­ciona­dos, Volk­swa­gen hinted at the hard-core, 228kw, stripped-out, two-door and man­ual-only GTI Club­sport S mak­ing its way to South Africa soon.

With just 47 units com­ing to South African shores, you best place your or­der now.

Long live the GTI and its many, many de­riv­a­tives!

Faster

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