GRR

VW Golf GTI Clubsport is a 50th birthday present for the Golf

30th May 2024
Ethan Jupp

The latest chapter in the vindication of the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf is here with the Golf GTI Clubsport, revealed at the 2024 Nürburgring 24 hours. A 50th anniversary present for the Golf, the venue for the Clubsport’s reveal sets a precedent for VW’s seriousness about its progress with the Mk8. Let’s get into it.

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Firstly, the design, because the Clubsport is its own beast aesthetically with a bespoke fanged front bumper, sculpted rear wing and diffuser. You’ll also note the subtle livery, Warmenau forged wheels and Akrapovic exhaust tips. Volkswagen are always very careful when puffing out the GTI, stopping short of sacrificing its inimitable class for steroidal bravado. The same goes with the new Mk8 Clubsport. Per the new Golf facelift we get IQ.light LED matrix headlights and at the rear, and there are new LED tail light clusters too.

Under the skin are some familiar ingredients but as with the best GTIs, there’s been a lot of honing. We get the EA888 Evo 4 with 300PS (221kW) and 400Nm (295ft lb), powering the front wheels via an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and seven-speed DSG. The 0-62mph sprint flies past in just 5.6 seconds. Meanwhile, the standard GTI comes with a 265PS (195kW) version of this engine and is a bit slower, covering the sprint in 5.9 seconds. The Race Package for the Clubsport brings with it the aforementioned Akrapovic exhaust as well as a de-restricted top speed of 165mph.

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A notable appointment on developing the GTI and GTI Clubsport is chassis engineer Sven Bohnhorst, who, among other things, has the track-focused Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport’s dynamic offering on his CV. For the GTI Clubsport he worked closely on the new progressive steering, an adaptive rack that can make the car nimble at low speeds and stable at high speeds. Such systems have not been particularly pleasant in the past but the new software has been honed to deliver GTI-ness.

Vehicle Dynamics Manager ties the diff, the adaptive DCC damping, the steering, and the powertrain together into a cohesive whole. You then pick the personality of your GTI from the driving profiles, through Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual, and in the Clubsport, Special, which is a Nürburgring-specific setup.

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Hopefully the Clubsport is a Mk8 GTI that’s come out of its shell a little bit, but what’s sure to be an improvement is the inside. Here we find a steering wheel with actual, clicky, physical buttons and a new infotainment system. First rolled out on the ID.7, we can confirm from experience its a much more cohesive, high-quality experience. Indeed VW, still licking its wounds from the lashing we gave it over past efforts in the original Mk8 and ID.3, has made a big deal of this new system, with its 12.9-inch screen and rigid bars at the top and bottom that the driver can assign favourite functions and apps. There’s also now the optional IDA voice assistant with ChatGPT integration for a variety of conversational functions.

So, what do you think about the new Golf GTI Clubsport? Has Volkswagen hopped it up enough for it to deserve that name? Or is it holding something back? We have our suspicions the 50th birthday of the GTI in 2026 might mean there’s more still to come. How cool it would be to see another hardcore, track-focused Clubsport S, like the original of 2016, to fully cap off the redemption of the Mk8…

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