Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 Review
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The big difference between the GTI and the Clubsport is its power – up to 290hp during 10-second bursts of overboost when you floor it and 265hp the rest of the time. By contrast, a performance-package-equipped GTI struggles by with a mere 230hp.
It’s not just quick on the straights, this ultimate Golf GTI is the sharpest and most controllable it has ever been in bends, and thanks to the latest electronic-locking differential it has huge amounts of grip. It’s the Golf GTI to choose if you ever plan to do track days.
So it’s a lot faster, but what’s more important is that the core appeal of the Golf – its everyday usability – remains intact. It will still cruise quietly on the motorway, accelerate smoothly from low speeds in high gears and return impressive fuel economy.
The Clubsport is the ultimate edition of the ultimate hot hatch
Take away the aerodynamic bumpers and spoilers that differentiate the Clubsport from the regular GTI and underneath is still one of the most practical performance hatchbacks currently on sale – there are no complaints about passenger space and the Clubsport’s unique bucket seats are both supportive and comfortable.
It sits at the top of the Golf range and as a result gets climate control, parking sensors and a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, as well as a variety of sporty touches that mark it out from the rest of the range.
Yet another re-worked version of VW’s brilliant 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol powers the GTI Clubsport.
Only having 290hp for 10 seconds makes you feel like you’re in a video game – constantly waiting to use the overboost
Normally it has 265hp, but every time you floor the accelerator the turbocharger pressure is increased for 10 seconds to 290hp – 10 less than in the Golf R. Acceleration is impressive but a more important figure is the pulling power – the 280lb ft of torque is exactly the same as in the Golf R. Most of it is also available from just 1,700rpm and – combined with the lower weight of the Clubsport compared to the Golf R – makes for some dizzying in-gear acceleration.
When power is not needed, the engine is quiet and decently frugal, being able to return fuel economy of 42.1mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 155g/km. We would suggest going for the DSG gearbox option as it offers faster changes and also gives better fuel economy, or so Volkswagen says anyway.
The Clubsport does to the GTI what the GTI does to the regular Golf – it improves the handling without any noticeable drawbacks. The Clubsport is incredibly easy to drive fast and goes around corners with impressive composure, yet it’s more forgiving in terms of ride comfort than rivals from Honda and Renault. The XDS+electronic differential improves grip to the point that the Clubsport might be faster around a racetrack than the more-powerful Golf R. The confidence-inspiring handling is further helped by the optional Michelin Pilot Sport semi-slick tyres that seemingly claw into the tarmac.
A £800 optional extra that is highly recommended is the adaptive dampers. There are three driving modes including Sport and Comfort and they not only alter the suspension setup but also the throttle response and the speed of the DSG gearbox’s shifts.
Inside, it is similar to the GTI but with added panache.