VW Golf GTI Clubsport S (2016) review

Remember the Golf GTI Clubsport , the most powerful version of the Golf GTI ever? This is the new, even more powerful version. It’s called the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S, and there’s a bit more at play here than just an extra consonant.

Limited to 400 cars worldwide, the Clubsport S winds the GTI’s 2.0-litre turbo’s power up to 306bhp (even more than the awd Golf R), carries some substantial chassis tweaks, loses a fair bit of weight (some of it by chucking away the rear seats), and has recently garnered the coveted lap record for a front-wheel-drive production car at the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Which, appropriately enough, is where we’ve tested it…

So there’s more to the Clubsport S than AWOL back seats and a few damper tweaks?

The power hike, from 261bhp in the Clubsport to 306bhp in the Clubsport S, comes largely from a larger, freer-breathing exhaust system. For the first time on a modern VW performance car, the speed limiter’s been removed, allowing the S to hit 165mph flat-out – a figure that would be higher were it not for that big rear spoiler.

All that power flows through the regular GTI’s manual gearbox rather than the DSG auto, since the dual-clutch ‘box’s extra weight would have negated its quicker shifts.

Aside from losing the rear seats, some of the sound deadening material has also been deleted, as has the variable-height boot floor, and an aluminium front subframe has been fitted. The net result is a claimed 1360kg kerb weight.

The tech spec of the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S

Unusually for a hot hatch, there’s significant downforce, too. Those flared nostrils and that spoiler aren’t for show, transforming the standard Golf GTI’s 60kg of aerodynamic lift at top speed (not unusual for a car of this type) to a total of 25kg of downforce, 17kg of which is concentrated over the rear axle. There’s resultant drag, of course – down the Nordschleife’s enormous Döttinger Höhe straight the Clubsport’s noticeably slower than its rivals, VW says – but it claws the time back in the corners.

The suspension’s come in for a detailed rejig, with far more negative camber at the front courtesy of brand-new (and very expensive to manufacture) subframe knuckles, with the aim of making the car as stable as possible when braking and turning at the same time – something drivers have to do quite a lot of on the Nordschleife.

There’s been much electronic calibration tweakery, too. Setting the ‘Ring record (7m 49.2sec – a full 1.4sec quicker than the previous fwd champ, Honda’s Civic Type R) simply wouldn’t be possible with passive dampers. The electronically controlled shocks play a huge role in helping the Clubsport monster the track’s kerbs, yumps and cambers. The ‘Comfort’ mode in the car’s driving profiles is identical to the damper settings used for the Nurburgring record lap.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *