Volkswagen is celebrating the upcoming 40th anniversary of its Golf GTI with the all-new GTI Clubsport. It's no surprise party, since VW also released special editions in recognition of the GTI's 20th, 25th, 30th and 35th birthdays. With a power-cranking boost function, improved aerodynamics and a heritage design package, the Clubsport promises to be a potent, stylish little ride.
Volkswagen's latest compact rocket is powered by a 261-hp turbocharged direct injection engine, giving the Clubsport an extra 35 hp compared to the previous titleholder for "most powerful Golf GTI." That's a nice boost in itself, but thanks to an integrated boost function activated by kicking down the accelerator pedal, the driver can take 10-second visits with 286 hp. That makes the Clubsport an awfully playful little hatchback.
When mated to the standard six-speed manual, that engine sends the GTI Clubsport zipping from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a flat 6 seconds. Upgrade to the optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch and that trip comes as quickly as 5.9 seconds. Fuel economy pencils in at 34 mpg (6.9 l/100 km) for the manual and 35 mpg (6.7 l/100 km) for the DSG.
You can't have an appropriate anniversary special edition without a dedicated styling package. Volkswagen has looked back over the 40 years of GTI design and pulled some heritage styling cues out of the attic. The black strips running along the lower side edges are borrowed from the original 1976 Golf GTI. Those strips include integrated "Clubsport" badging, and blend naturally into the left and right air deflectors up front and rear diffuser in back.
The mirror housings, roof and multi-part roof spoiler work with the side strips in accenting the Oryx White exterior with contrast black. The roof spoiler is a highlight of the improved body kit, and has been increased in size when compared to the one on the standard GTI. The new rear diffuser houses an enlarged pair of chrome-plated tailpipes. Working forward from that diffuser, a wraparound splitter runs below the side sills and front bumper. A set of dark black-red LED taillights and 18-in forged alloy wheels (19-in "Bresica" alloy wheels optional) finish the exterior package off.
On the other side of the doors, the Clubsport has a new set of folding race bucket seats with Alcantara trim and honeycomb patterning, an Alcantara-trimmed sport steering wheel, customized, red-edged floor mats and stainless steel door sill plates with red-lettered "GTI" designations. There's also a variety of Alcantara, honeycomb and red trim throughout.
The all-new Golf GTI Clubsport will make its world debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, which starts next week.