VW Golf GTI Clubsport (2016): the most powerful GTI yet

Published: 09 September 2015

 ► VW Golf GTI Clubsport revealed
► Most powerful production GTI yet
► 286bhp on overboost, 0-62mph in 5.9sec

Time flies, eh? In 2016 the VW Golf GTI will have been around for no less than 40 years, and to mark the occasion Volkswagen’s cooked up a special edition: the VW Golf GTI Clubsport. With as much as 286bhp on tap, it’s the most powerful production Golf GTI yet.

Have I seen this car somewhere before?

The GTI Clubsport was previewed in concept form at the Worthersee festival in May – read all about it here. This is the production version, due to make its public debut at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show.

VW has form here – the Clubsport’s part of a long run of anniversary editions, marking the GTI’s 20th, 25th, 30th (click here to read CAR’s review of the GTI Edition 30) and 35th birthdays. The Clubsport follows a similar extra-power-and-lairier-bodykit formula but, as its name suggests, it’s a little more focussed than its forerunners.

That big roof spoiler and engorged diffuser create enough downforce to make a noticeable difference to the car’s cornering speeds on a circuit, says VW. Apart from the rear wing, Golf-spotters can tell a Clubsport from a vanilla GTI by its altered front bumper, black-striped sills, bigger tailpipes and different alloy wheel designs (18in as standard, with 19s an option).

Inside, the seats have grown chunkier bolsters and their trademark tartan upholstery’s been ditched for alcantara, with more of the same on the gearlever gaiter and steering wheel.

Just how fast is the VW GTI Clubsport?

Power’s boosted from the regular GTI’s 217bhp (227bhp if fitted with the optional performance pack) to a rather more serious 261bhp (the same as the base Seat Leon Cupra 265, which uses a version of the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine). That’s not the end of the story, however, as the Clubsport features a boost function which temporarily pumps the power output to 286bhp when the throttle pedal’s pushed past the kickdown stop.

As with the regular GTI, buyers can choose between a six-speed manual or dual-clutch DSG gearbox. The Clubsport scrabbles its way from 0-62mph in 5.9sec with the DSG gearbox, or a tenth slower with the manual.

It’s still not the fastest performance Golf of all, of course – the Golf R’s still the daddy with four-wheel drive and nearly 300bhp from a development of the same four-cylinder engine. And there’s an even more potent Golf in the pipeline: the 400bhp Golf R420 hyperhatch – click here to read more.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer