What a way to celebrate a special occasion. Volkswagen plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the GTI by introducing the new Clubsport model at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week.
Packing 261-horsepower under the hood – and capable of brief bursts punching that up to 286-hp — that will make the GTI Clubsport the most powerful version of Volkswagen’s hot hatch ever. Erring on the conservative side, VW is suggesting that will make for 5.9-second 0-60 launches, though even the current GTI has been able to top that by a few tenths of a second.
If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, no surprise. We originally previewed the concept version of the Clubsport when it made its debut at the annual Worthersee VW fanboy convention earlier in the year.
The production model picks up on most of the key styling cues – and the new turbocharged, direct-injection engine.
Visually, you’ll know you’re looking at the VW GTI Clubsport. The hatchback gets unique exterior cues that include a new bumper and straked front fascia, side skirts, a multi-piece rear roof spoiler and rear diffuser. The roof and exterior mirrors are painted black, with darkened taillights. The Clubsport starts out with 18-inch alloy wheels, but 19s are optional.
VW claims most of those details, such as the front strakes, are functional components designed to enhance high-speed stability.
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Inside, there are heavily bolstered seats finished in grippy, suede-like Alcantara, as are the steering wheel and shifter. Red accents pick up on the classic GTI theme, all the way down to the red-edged floor mats. Unique GTI sill plates are standard.
While the distinctive looks might win over fans, it’s likely to be the enhanced performance that will really sell the new VW GTI Clubsport. The tubocharged 2.0-liter four is officially rated at 261 horsepower, or 41 more than the standard GTI with a Performance pack option. If that’s not enough, you’ll go into overboost mode for up to 10 seconds – bumping output to a tire-spinning 286-hp – for up to 10 seconds.
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Officially, VW claims you’ll hit100 kmh, or 62 mph, in 6 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission, and about a tenth of a second less with the six-speed DSG. Don’t be surprised if future reviews talk numbers as much as a half-second faster.
Unfortunately, as attractive as the VW GTI Clubsport sounds, you can’t have one. Well, not if you live in the U.S., anyway. Unless the German maker has a sudden change of heart, it’s saying that none of the limited-edition Clubsports will come to the U.S. market.
But don’t let that completely ruin your day. If you really want the ultimate version of the latest-generation Volkswagen Golf – and that’s what a GTI is at heart – there is an alternative.
The new Golf R made its U.S. debut earlier this year. And that mean machine will punch a full 292-hp out of that turbocharged four – putting all that power to the pavement through a performance-modified version of VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. That’s enough to get you to 60 mph in about 4.9 seconds.
And VW is working on something even more daunting, it seems, a Golf R420 that will make in excess of 400 ponies. So, stay tuned.
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