New VW Golf GTI Clubsport gets 296bhp and chassis upgrades

Volkswagen is swiftly following the debut of the Mk8 Golf GTI with a more powerful and focused Clubsport version – reviving a name used on past special editions and replacing the old GTI TCR.

It’s described by the brand as offering “even more cornering grip, further increased driving stability and even more driving fun” without significantly compromising the everyday usability of the standard Golf GTI.

The new range-topping variant raises the standard model’s 242bhp to 296bhp, thanks to a retuned engine management system, larger intercooler and a new turbocharger sourced from Continental, replacing the standard GTI’s Garrett-sourced item.

Torque also increases to 295lb ft – 22lb ft more than in the regular GTI. However, these figures are achieved running on 98 RON fuel, which is recommended by VW, rather than the 95 RON fuel recommended for the standard GTI.

Power is put through the front wheels via a standard-fit seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox. A manual version will not be offered, with VW claiming the car is significantly faster with a DSG. The dual-clutch gearbox itself has also benefitted from Clubsport-specific shorter gear ratios.

Volkswagen quotes a 0-62mph time of just under 6.0sec and a top speed of 155mph for the new Clubsport. By way of comparison, the standard GTI fitted with the DSG dual-clutch auto is claimed to cover 0-62mph in 6.2sec and has an identical top speed.

As with previous Clubsports, the upgrades over the base GTI extend far beyond a boost in power. Volkswagen claims the chassis has been “completely retuned and significantly further developed”.

A VAQ electromechanical locking front differential replaces the purely electronic XDS system of the standard GTI and control of that system has been integrated into the car’s driving dynamics manager. That means the diff can be relaxed in comfort-focused drive modes and set to a more aggressive tune in sportier modes – a first for the brand.

Further tuning includes new axle kinematics with “significantly increased” camber at the front over the standard GTI – although VW admits this is less aggressively dialled-in that it is on the old Clubsport S. On the rear axle, a new control arm mount, new wheel mounts, new spring configuration and new damper bearings and hydraulics also feature.

The spring rates, however, remain identical to the standard Mk8 GTI; they are 5% higher on the front axle than the Mk7 and 15% higher on the rear axle. VW allows greater-than-ever control over damper settings, though, through the Mk8’s Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system, which has a full fifteen settings between Comfort and Sport to allow more precise fine-tuning.

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There are enlarged side skirts with black stripes, too, and various 18in and 19in wheel designs are available. The new spoiler in gloss black is the most distinctive addition at the rear, but there’s also a revised diffuser and oval tailpipes instead of the standard GTI’s circular ones.

Interior revisions are less significant, extending only to redesigned seat upholstery.

Order books for the GTI Clubsport are expected to open in November but UK pricing has yet to be revealed. With the DSG-equipped regular GTI starting from £34,690, a price increase of at least £3500 for the Clubsport is likely. Unlikely the Clubsport S, production will not be limited.