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Volkswagen’s sublime Clubsport adds a bit of drama to Golf hot hatch

CarsBy Paul Keown
The new VW GTI Clubsport is the king of the hot hatches
The new VW GTI Clubsport is the king of the hot hatches

Volkswagen Golf GTi ClubSport

HOT hatch fans have been spoiled rotten in the last few years. The choice is vast and the power increases over the years has seen 300bhp become the magic number.

Cars like the Audi S3, Honda Civic Type R and new Ford Focus RS go beyond the 300 mark and are ridiculously fast cars.

A recent drive in the new Focus RS made us re-evaluate our love for the Golf GTi, as it was the ultimate hot hatch.

However, using an RS for your daily drive is more extreme than you think. It’s quite stiff and long journeys are challenging, both for comfort and keeping your speed in check.

For this reason, the Golf GTi comes back into the reckoning as the ultimate hot hatch. It does normal so well, but can get its groove on when commanded.

The Golf hot hatch is a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

First you have the seventh-generation Golf GTi with 220bhp. When it first came out and we tested it around challenging roads, we gave the hot hatch segment the Gordon Ramsay treatment – done!

But the Golf hot hatch comes in many forms. The Golf R is the 300bhp four-wheel drive that raised the bar in the segment, but like the first bowl of porridge, it’s too hot.

The entry-level GTi with 220bhp (230bhp with performance pack) is the second bowl of porridge – it’s too cold.

So to get it just right, Volkswagen has given us the perfect bowl of porridge, in the form of the GTi Club Sport.

This 265bhp special edition Golf GTi is a birthday present from the German brand, as they celebrate 40 years of the GTi.

The Club Sport comes in two versions, the model we tested for the week and a rather special Club Sport S, which is a track-orientated GTI with no rear seats, more power than the four-wheel drive Golf R (306bhp) and holds the current front-wheel drive record at the notorious Nurburgring.

Only 400 of these were made and snapped up faster than a TV on Black Friday.

So why is the GTi Club Sport so special? Well, it does everything you’d expect from a GTi, with added drama.

We’re massive hot hatch fans and have always waxed lyrical about the Golf GTi. You can use the Club Sport as a daily driver, taking the kids to school, picking up the shopping or bringing your granny to Mass.

When all your good deeds are done and you feel the need for an adrenalin rush, fire up the GTi Club Sport, select sport mode and go play.

It’s a totally different animal and its characteristics in sport mode make it a potent machine.

There is a bit of trickery in the Club Sport. The addition of an overboost function gives the Club Sport up to 290hp and 380Nm for short periods when you stamp on the accelerator pedal from third gear onwards. 

On slightly slick roads, the wheels will let go until you reach fourth if driven with your foot planted. It feels incredible when driven aggressively. 

Switch back to normal mode and the Club Sport relaxes back into an everyday car.

The GTi is one of the better handling hot hatches and at times feels like its on rails.

The Club Sport has been improved with the addition of better aerodynamics in the shape of new bumpers, rear diffuser and a bigger spoiler. 

A recalibrated front differential helps the Club Sport keep the front end in tact when powering through a corner and it really begs you to push even harder.

The GTI comes well equipped as standard and the Club Sport is no different. 

You get the addition of a race-inspired alcantara-trimmed flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching and a red 12 o’clock marker, a Club Sport two-piece spoiler, 18-inch unique alloys and Club Sport dual tailpipe with new exhaust system (which adds a synthesised note in the cabin).

The best addition for me was the figure-hugging Recaros that hold one in place as well as providing comfort.

A lot of these seats are uncomfortable, but these are close to perfection. 

We think this is the best version of the Golf GTi, and the best hot hatch right now.

So is it worth paying the extra cost over a normal GTi, considering it’s creeping up upon the €45k price of the Golf R.

The GTi range starts at €37,370, so spending an extra €7k could be a bit rash in this day and age.

Perfection has a price, though, and the GTi Club Sport is worth every cent.