Golf GTI Clubsport, the Golf you need
We've now tested every variant of the new Golf 8. The GTI, the R, and now the GTI Clubsport. But which one is the best? First off, we thought that the R would be the one to buy, but now the GTI Clubsport has blown us away. Let's tell you more.
After testing the fun but simple GTI and the hyper-hatch R, the Clubsport might be the sweet spot. The GTI Clubsport has an upgraded version of the GTI's 2.0l TSI producing 300hp and 400nm. The basic formula is still the same, front-wheel-drive, DSG Gearbox, and a more sophisticated suspension. Some exclusive additions to the Clubsport are a bigger front and rear bumper, rear wing, and a front differential as standard. One thing you notice is the front differential that pulls you out of corners during acceleration. Our GTI Clubsport had the exclusive 45 package fitted. In addition to all the other Clubsport touches, the 45 package gives you an Akrapovic exhaust, some 45 badges, and the top speed has been increased to 269 km/h. The 45 signifies and celebrates 45 years of Golf GTI. Since its incarnation in 1976, there have been eight generations of the Golf GTI. The badges you get are quite lackluster, all you get are some stickers on the side and a little 45 badge on the steering wheel. It would've been cool to have a plaque somewhere in the interior or some more badges on the exterior. The only way you know you are looking at the 45 are those two badges. The Akrapovic exhaust can be fitted as an option on the normal GTI Clubsport. But if a Golf GTI is blasting past you at over 260 km/h, it's either tuned or the Golf GTI Clubsport 45.
And yes, the full name is the VW Golf GTI Clubsport 45. Try explaining all those things to a friend. The most important thing though is that the Clubsport makes the normal Golf GTI obsolete. The extra 55 horsepower and the front differential make this the better car to drive. It also looks better in our opinion. You still get great fuel economy if you want to save some fuel, just like the normal Golf GTI.
We took the Golf GTI Clubsport 45 to the place where it was intended to drive; Schwarzwald. This place is truly magical, everywhere you look there are windy roads perfect for our car of choice. Like mentioned earlier, the extra power and front differential transform the Golf GTI into a thoroughbred sports car. Combined with the fruity exhaust sound from the Akrapovic installation, the Clubsport is one of the most hilarious driving experiences you'll ever see in any hot hatch. The grip is unbelievable and you get very little understeer if any at all. Another thing we wanted to test out was the performance on the German Autobahn. After all, the 45 package gets you up to 269 km/h. But sadly it was too busy to max out the Clubsport. Although the acceleration is very strong and you never feel like you're out of power. We only got up to 261 km/h (on the tachometer), so that's around 255 km/h. So we're glad we got through the limiter, which normally sits at around 250km/h. This was all done while still being extremely comfortable and safe. You never feel like you're in danger because the added aero and chassis setup is well suited for higher speeds.
We're still struggling to find out which is the better car, the Golf R or the Golf GTI Clubsport. They have similar power but the Golf R has that all-important 4WD-System that launches the car to 100km/h in around 4 seconds. The front-wheel-drive setup of the Golf GTI Clubsport doesn't let it down, but it's still how it is. Torque steer is quite noticeable and the 0 - 100km/h time is also affected because of the lack of grip at times. For any normal person, the Golf GTI Clubsport is all the car you need, so we'd recommend that you get the Golf GTI Clubsport but never drive the Golf R. The Golf R is just all-around a better car to drive.
Our verdict of the Golf GTI Clubsport was pretty hard to find because there are so many iterations of the new Golf. We can say though that it's one of the best front-wheel-drive hot hatches you can buy. The Golf R is just in a different league, that they're hard to compare. Unlike the Renault Megane Trophy-R and the Hyundai i30N, the Golf GTI Clubsport doesn't come with a manual. That's just something you have to accept. The after-mentioned two cars are the closest competitors though, but in our opinion, they're a little bit too complicated and harsh. So if you want something comfortable but still thrilling, get the Golf GTI Clubsport. The 45 option is a nice thing to have, but it's not necessary.