HOLD TIGHT: NEW CLUBSPORT S IS THE MOST POW­ER­FUL GOLF GTI YET

Volk­swa­gen’s Golf GTI Clubsport S sits at the very top of the GTI range. So just how good is the fiery two-seater?

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW EVANS

WHAT’S NEW?

In cel­e­bra­tion of the 40th an­niver­sary of the Golf GTI, Volk­swa­gen had to find a way to make the GTI king of the hot hatch pack again and the Clubsport S is just that.

The most pow­er­ful Golf ever avail­able, the GTI Clubsport S is a lim­ited-edi­tion spe­cial that’s taken the Nur­bur­gring record for front-wheel drive production cars back to Wolfs­burg.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

At first glance, it’s in­cred­i­bly easy to mis­take the GTI Clubsport S for any other Golf GTI. From the twin ex­hausts, to the clas­sic red styling line through the head­lights, there’s not much to mark this out as some­thing spe­cial.

Even look­ing at the in­side won’t re­veal much. The clas­sic golf ball man­ual gear shifter tells you it’s a GTI and the part-al­can­tara seats sug­gest per­for­mance, but oth­er­wise it’s pretty much a stan­dard Golf.

Glance fur­ther back and you’ll spot that the rear seats have been re­placed with a mat, a faux strut brace and a cargo net, while a build num­ber is printed ahead of the gear­stick - the only hints that some­thing is amiss.

It’s a care­fully cul­ti­vated im­age in many re­spects. The Clubsport S presents it­self as some­thing of a Q- Car, shield­ing the true ex­tent of its per­for­mance un­less you know where to look.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

The fact that the rear seats are com­pletely ab­sent will be some­thing of a black mark in the prac­ti­cal­ity stakes. The fa­mously ver­sa­tile hatch­back body style has had to give a lit­tle up in Volk­swa­gen’s pur­suit of ul­ti­mate per­for­mance and balance.

For front-seat oc­cu­pants there’s no dif­fer­ence from the reg­u­lar Golf other than the body-hug­ging seats. Head, leg, knee and el­bow room is iden­ti­cal and you’ll find the same stor­age spaces and cub­bies.

The ab­sence of rear seats does mean there’s plenty of lug­gage space, should you choose to take a trip to the lo­cal DIY store. The full ‘seats down’ boot space of the reg­u­lar Golf GTI is avail­able at all times, at 1,270 litres. There’s a lug­gage net di­vid­ing the boot and the rear cabin area, which would be use­ful for at­tach­ing your shop­ping (or hel­met) to in or­der to pre­vent it slop­ping around or fetch­ing you a smack on the head while us­ing the car to its full po­ten­tial.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

With ex­tra power from the tur­bocharged and su­per­charged 2.0-litre engine, re­duced weight from strip­ping the rear seats and sound dead­en­ing, and a Nur­bur­gring lap record in its pocket, the Clubsport S is all about the driv­ing.

As with all GTIS (and Golfs), it’s easy

to find a good driv­ing po­si­tion to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence. The adap­tive sus­pen­sion comes with a num­ber of modes that vary from Com­fort to Race, but it’s worth avoid­ing the lat­ter un­less you’re ac­tu­ally on a track, as it’s a lit­tle firm for less pleas­ant road sur­faces and sleep­ing po­lice­men. In fact Com­fort mode en­ables the Nur­bur­gring spec­i­fi­ca­tion, which pro­vides just the right damper set­tings to cope with the fa­mously sav­age kerbs at the track and are more than good enough for your favourite B-road as a re­sult.

Push the car too far - which is dif­fi­cult on the very sticky Miche­lin Pi­lot Cup tyres - and you’ll get un­der­steer as you’d ex­pect. Also ex­pected is a slight hint of torque steer in low gears if you make a lot of de­mand on the ac­cel­er­a­tor, but it’s re­ally rather min­i­mal. All-in, the Clubsport S makes for a very be­nign car to drive ex­tremely fast.

VALUE FOR MONEY

The spec­i­fi­ca­tion is rel­a­tively high, con­sid­er­ing that ef­fort Volk­swa­gen has gone to in or­der to shuck ex­cess weight. All cars come with the Dis­cover nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem equipped as stan­dard, pack­ing in a 6.5-inch colour touch­screen with nav­i­ga­tion and re­vers­ing cam­era and sen­sors, but to get DAB ra­dio you’ll need to up­grade to the Dis­cover Pro sys­tem at £1,325.

Cli­mate con­trol isn’t stan­dard fit, but for­tu­nately it’s a no-cost op­tion should you choose to spec­ify it. Cruise con­trol isn’t avail­able at all though, as some of the sen­sors have been re­moved. This also means that some of the safety sys­tems, like post-col­li­sion brak­ing, are also not avail­able.

As it’s a highly lim­ited run model though - 150 UK cars from a 400 ve­hi­cle run in to­tal - you’re un­likely to lose much money through de­pre­ci­a­tion if you’re one of the lucky UK buy­ers.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The lap­time-chas­ing per­for­mance car en­thu­si­ast who loves the shape of the Golf, but wants a two-seater sports car.

WITH EX­TRA POWER FROM THE TUR­BOCHARGED AND SU­PER­CHARGED 2.0-LITRE ENGINE... THE CLUBSPORT S IS ALL ABOUT THE DRIV­ING

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