The new Golf GTI Clubsport S (it just rolls off the tongue…) isn’t just the fastest GTI ever, it’s quite possibly the fastest front-wheel drive hatchback full stop. A claim Volkswagen could certainly back up with their record Nurbugring lap time of 7:49.21-faster, incredibly, than BMW’s M4 or even the late Lamborghini Gallardo (RIP). However, in its ruthless pursuit for speed, has the Clubsport S compromised the everyday usability of the GTI on which its based?
It’s still undeniably a Golf, however the moment your eyes stumble upon the Clubsport S, something within your brain seems to instinctively recognise that it’s more than just a GTI with some extra badges. The front, while a little fussy (blame those cheese-grater-inspired air intakes), possesses an undeniable menace, a feature accentuated by spiky-looking, 19 inch alloys. From the rear, it’s less of an event, with the only real give away that this is the Clubsport version of the GTI being the subtle rear wing.
The GTI’s 2.0 litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine remains, the difference being that for the Clubsport S, its been given a tune-up to produce 228kw and 380Nm, thus securing it as the most powerful production Golf on sale. As a result, performance is frankly insane for a front-wheel drive hatch, that essentially started life as nanna’s pokies run-around. 0-100km/h is quoted at 5.8 seconds, a figure made possible thanks to the incredibly adhesive Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and a power to ratio of approximately 177kw/ton, with the Golf claimed to tip the scales at 1285kg.
CORRECTION: We THOUGHT this was a Golf, seeing as it has Golf badges on the doors and a Volkswagen badge on the front. We were wrong. A point that becomes apparent the moment you open the door. See, for someone unknown reason, Volkswagen have decided to install a whopping great monkey bar playground set where the back seats usually lie. At first glance we thought someone had spiked our complimentary press drinks. They hadn't. Volkswagen had released a Golf with only 2 seats. This was, to put it kindly, a stupid idea.
The whole appeal of the GTI lies in its ability to carry out the duties of reality during the week and still be able plaster a smile on your face when an opportunity reveals itself. The Clubsport S can still evoke a smile from your face, but forget friends, you can only have one. Volkswagen, it appears, has forgotten that people usually buy hatchbacks for the practicality they bring with them- this includes rear seats.
And then there’s the price.
If the rumours circulating the Clubsport S' price are true (est. $55,000), it’ll cost $6,000 more than the non-S-badged Clubsport- a car that’s already considerably lighter, harder and faster than the base GTI, yet retains the practicality of rear seats. You could live with the S model, however whether you'd actually want to, is another matter. When likened to chilli, the Clubsport is a mild jalepeno- spicy enough to raise your eyebrows but bearable. The Clubsport S meanwhile is a trinidad scropian- much more exciting, but it'd probably send you into respiratory attack if you had to consume it on a daily basis.
Our advice then? For the love of those surpassingly useful backseats, we'd plump for the 'base' Clubsport. Unless of course, you have no friends. In which case you should probably just sell your house and buy a BAC mono.