The Golf GTI Clubsport S is the most powerful ever version of the Golf GTI and was built to celebrate 40 years of the iconic hot hatchback. With German racing driver Benny Leuchter at the wheel, the car has just smashed the existing lap record for front-wheel-drive production cars on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a time of seven minutes and 49.21 seconds.
This exclusive new vehicle, based on the Golf GTI Clubsport, made its world premiere at the GTI event at Lake Wörthersee The hard performance numbers of this new GTI are truly impressive: a power output of 228 kilowatts/310 PS/305 horsepower; 280 pound-feet/379 Newton-meters of torque between 1,700 and 5,300 revolutions per minute; 0 to 62 miles per hour/99 kilometers per hour acceleration in 5.8 seconds; a top speed of 162 mph (356 kph); and an unladen weight (including the driver and luggage) that has been reduced to 2,998 pounds. But the raw figures don’t tell the whole story, as the record lap time around the Nordschleife demonstrates how fast this car actually is.
The Golf GTI Clubsport S has an exclusive setting for the most demanding racetrack in the world, which can be accessed using the driving profile selector. This is possible because the car is fitted as standard with the individually configurable Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) and a driving profile selector. In the Individual driving profile, the engineers have developed a setting that is fine-tuned to suit the unique conditions of the Nürburgring. Over and above that, the Comfort, Normal and Race settings are also available. The driver can still adjust the settings in the Individual profile, as usual, and can revert to the Nürburgring setting by resetting the Individual profile on the touchscreen menu. This unique configuration switches the Sound, Engine and Steering parameters in the Race profile as well as DCC to Comfort. However, in this instance an entirely different group of settings is hidden behind this option, instead of the normal Race and Comfort settings.
The production run will be limited to 400 cars worldwide, 100 of which will be delivered to customers in Germany. Colors will be limited to those of the original GTI: Tornado Red; Pure White; and Deep Black Pearl Effect, with the roof painted black. The Clubsport S is based on the two-door model with a manual transmission, in order to keep the weight as low as possible.
The Clubsport S is a pure two-seater. Doing away with the rear seats, including the central armrest, for example, accounts for the most noticeable weight saving. A smaller battery, as well as doing without insulation, the variable-height trunk floor, the rear parcel shelf, and the floor mats pushed the weight down yet further. An aluminum subframe for the front suspension and aluminum brake covers also shed weight. On the other hand, 235/35 ZR Michelin tires mounted on 19-inch “Pretoria” aluminum-alloy wheels, DCC, a strut brace, a partition net behind the seats and a carpet in the rear add some of that saving back, for a total weight reduction of approximately 66 pounds in comparison to a similarly equipped Golf GTI Clubsport. The unladen weight is 2,833 pounds, resulting in a dynamic power-to-weight ratio of 9.14 pounds per horsepower. Less weight also means greater fuel efficiency, with an New European Driving Cycle rating of 31.8 miles per gallon (equivalent to 172 grams per kilometer CO2).
The development team exploited synergies between motorsport and production vehicles in enhancing the engine performance, as they could draw on their experience with the 243 kW/330 PS/325 hp Golf GTI TCR—the new racing car for the TCR International Series. This also gave them the opportunity to boost the engine to 310 PS/305 hp and 280 lb-ft/379 Nm. The engineers achieved this boost in performance with a modified engine control unit and a new exhaust system: an increased diameter of 2.56 inches instead of 2.16 inches reduces the exhaust backpressure and increases the performance. A side effect of the modifications is that the exhaust system produces a wonderful and deliberate “backfire” under braking! In the course of the modifications the engineers also integrated a new fuel pump with increased throughput. The engine of the front-wheel drive Golf GTI Clubsport S is technically based on the 2.0-liter TSI engine that also powers the other versions of the Golf GTI and the Golf R.
Other changes for the most exclusive Golf GTI include the following: semi-slick Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires mounted on 19-inch “Pretoria” alloy wheels, tinted rear windows that absorb 65 percent of the light, “Clubsport S” type plates, Bi-Xenon headlights with cornering lights and LED daytime running lights. The brake system was also modified to withstand the high temperatures inflicted at a racetrack. The disc bells are made of aluminum and are connected to the steel discs by cast location pins, allowing them to expand radially when they heat up. An important factor for the car’s handling is that the unsprung mass of each wheel is 2.2 pounds lower thanks to the aluminum brake covers. To further improve the braking performance, the Golf GTI Clubsport S has special brake pads.
Each of the 400 Golf GTI Clubsport S cars made will have its production number (001/400 to 400/400) on the center console in the front. The driver and the front seat passenger sit in racing bucket seats that provide the necessary lateral support while flying around the Nordschleife. The car also features GTI insignia that’s featured in the “normal” Golf GTI Clubsport, including the iconic golf ball shifter knob with Alcantara trim, a red line in the safety belts, “Honeycomb 40” design decals on the dashboard and doors, and elegant Piano Black accents. The extremely grippy Alcantara-trimmed sport steering wheel, which has a chrome GTI emblem, red stitching and the 12:00 position marked out, was designed to be ergonomically perfect for the track.