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?
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