It’s been a long four years while we waited for the next sizzlingly hot hatch from VW, but finally, the new Golf GTI Clubsport has arrived and it’s faster, tighter, and has bucketloads of fun to throw at its lucky owners.
Lift the bonnet and you’ll find a 2.0-litre four-pot capable of 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This is over fifty more horses than the standard GTI, but the main difference between this and the staple hot hatch is the transmission. Gone has the manual stick, and in its place sits a 7-speed dual-clutch system which is able to transfer power to the front wheels efficiently enough for the car to hit 62mph in under 6 seconds. With the pedal mated to the floor, it will hit an electronically limited 155mph.
For extra spice, the Clubsport’s Vehicle Dynamics Manager has been overhauled with it now enabling the driver to change the preferences of the variable-locking differential. And if the option is ticked, the adaptive shocks can be altered here, too. According to the German marque, these changes, plus a dab of positive camber at the front and the car sitting 10mm lower, will dial out the traditional understeer you’d find in similar front-wheel drive cars – big words.
Unfortunately, like most new cars, it has progressive-rate power steering, but this has been tuned by people who are far more knowledgeable than me to give a more direct response when entering a corner. Furthermore, this car has been tuned specifically to deal with the onslaught only a certain German race track could throw at it. Yes, flick the Clubsport into Special mode and it gears up for a thrashing on the Nurburgring by adapting its running gear components, enabling it to hit 7:54 seconds on the Green Hell.
Bigger brakes sit at each corner of the car peaking through either 18-inch or 19-inch wheel designs, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 semi-slick tyres can be specced as a very attractive option. Paired with improved downforce, it promises to be one of the stickiest Golfs yet.
While the lack of a manual variant may keep some buyers focussed on the GTI which is available with a six-speed gearbox, the Clubsport maintains a chassis focus over all out power. And for this reason alone, I’d be very interested to see if I’d miss the clutch pedal.