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New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport hits the road from £37,315

The 296bhp front-driven Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport hot hatch is the fastest accelerating Golf GTI ever, and laps the Nürburgring 13 seconds faster than the stock GTI

Fresh off the back of the Golf GTI, VW is now taking orders for a more extreme version of the hot hatch icon: the new 296bhp Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport.

The Clubsport is a lighter, more aggressive, track-biased version of the hot hatchback which takes aim squarely at the Honda Civic Type R. Prices start from £37,215 - up from the £33,460 starting figure of the standard GTI.

The Clubsport sticks with a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine, but it's 296bhp output is an increase of 54bhp over the regular GTI. Torque steps up too, to 400Nm (30Nm more than in the regular Mk8 GTI). To avoid too much overlap with the 316bhp Golf R drive is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox – there is no manual option.

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With the power gains, the Clubsport is able to cover the 0-62mph benchmark in just 5.6 seconds, making this the fastest production Golf GTI ever. Official WTLP fuel consumption stands at 37.7mpg with CO2 emissions of 170g/km.

The performance advances are not all through the engine, though, with significant chassis work and aerodynamic tweaks also improving its effectiveness on road and track. Chief among the advances beyond the regular GTI’s chassis and drivetrain are a new electronic differential, plus a Clubsport-specific steering and suspension tune, which introduces a more aggressive front camber for sharper turn-in. The brakes have been upgraded, too; the front discs are larger and lighter, increasing stopping power and reducing unsprung weight at the same time. 

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As with the regular Golf GTI, the Clubsport features a number of selectable driving modes, which alter the parameters of the engine, gearbox, optional adaptive dampers and steering. However, alongside the regular Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual settings, the Clubsport features one more mode: Special.

Buyers may seldom get the most out of this mode, because it’s a set-up tailored for the Nürburgring in Germany, where VW’s engineers spent a significant amount of time developing the Clubsport. The firm claims that as a result, the newcomer is up to 13 seconds a lap quicker than the regular GTI around the famous 12.9-mile circuit.

Some of those advances are as a result of improved aerodynamics. The combination of a new front chin spoiler and a larger rear wing help to reduce lift at both ends of the car; while a rear diffuser, unique to the Clubsport, splits two oval exhausts tips which help to differentiate the design from the standard GTI. Elsewhere, the front bumper, side skirts and Clubsport graphics are all new.

LED headlights are standard fit, with IQ. Light adaptive LED matrix headlights optional, while the Clubsport GTI rides on 18-inch wheels as standard. 

Inside, the Clubsport receives newly upholstered sports seats with perforated leather trim, while red stitching is available as an option. A Digital Cockpit is standard equipment, too, as is 30-colour ambient lighting and a 10-inch central touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Unlike the Mk7 version of the GTI Clubsport, which was restricted to just 400 examples, the Mk8 is not a limited edition model and has no production cap - if you want one, you can order one.

Click here to read our review of the standard Volkswagen Golf GTI...

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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