Happenings

GTI Remastered

BY Philip Ng

Want a little more grip, grunt and style from your Golf GTI? Look no further than the limited edition GTI Clubsport.

Every now and then, Volkswagen likes to release something that gets the palms of enthusiasts sweaty. Ten years ago, we had the wonderfully insane Golf W12 Concept that had a massive twelve cylinder engine and fender flares that would make even any Liberty Walk creation blush. Now we have the GTI Clubsport, an actual production car that us mere mortals will actually be able to buy. Though not the most powerful Golf in the stable (that honor is reserved for the 296hp Golf R), it may just be the most track focused Golf yet.

The Clubsport makeover starts with the bodywork, where a redesigned front bumper with splitter, roof mounted wing and rear diffuser with larger pipes add presence as well as genuine downforce to the familiar Golf shape, all without looking obnoxious or boy racer-esque. Lightweight forged alloy wheels available in 18 or 19 inches, blacked out roof and mirror trim as well as stripes with “Clubsport” lettering down the side also let you know this is no run of the mill GTI.

With more stability imparted from the revised bodywork package, Volkswagen has also been able to re-tune the suspension for keener handling. This, combined with optional Michelin Cup 2 tires and the variable locking differential from the Performance Pack should make for entertaining handling. Complementing the chassis upgrades is a power hike to 265hp with a temporary overboost to 290hp at higher speeds - sizable gains compared to the 220hp maximum in other GTIs.

When paired with the standard 6-speed manual, the dash to 100km/h flashes takes just 6 seconds while top speed is pegged at 250km/h. Opt for the optional DSG double clutch job and you shave a tenth of a second from the century sprint, but also lose 1km/h of top speed. Either way, should you get challenged at the traffic lights by a standard GTI, you can rest safe knowing the best they can muster is 6.4 seconds, though don’t try your luck against super hatches like the new Civic Type-R.

Step inside the GTI Clubsport and it is resplendent with all the standard GTI touches, from seats trimmed in tartan fabric to the dimpled golf ball inspired gear knob and flat bottomed steering wheel. However, purposeful alterations have been made for the Clubsport with deep bucket seats to hold the driver in place during high-G maneuvers while an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel helps to assure a firm grip at all times. Cosmetic changes include honeycomb style trim appliques and red rimmed floor mats.

With the GTI Clubsport bereft of the added power and all wheel drive of its R-badged sibling, it cannot be regarded as the ultimate Golf. However with a dose of downforce, a lighter kerb weight and a racier setup, it might just be the most suitable Golf for track work. And yet it will retain all the amenities of the standard GTI such as adaptive damping and will sip petrol at 6.9l/100km in normal usage. If the Clubsport can meld the breadth of ability the GTI has been renowned for with the “groundbreaking handling” Volkswagen promises, then the palms of enthusiasts will indeed be very sweaty indeed.