Echoes Of The Past - Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40

Released in 2016, Volkswagen’s Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 was designed as a celebration of the Volkswagen Golf's 40th year. Following in the footsteps of the GTI Clubsport S, the GTI Clubsport is a step up in both power and handling over the standard GTI, but rather than being limited to just 150 UK examples, it’s limited to 1000. Exactly how good is this very special Golf GTI? Our media team recently spent the day getting to know this fantastic Golf a little better.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40

What better way to get to know a car than a photo shoot on some of Yorkshire’s great roads? You see, photo shoot days are great for quickly experiencing a car because you tend to use it in multiple different capacities in a short space of time: you get to test general comfort on the drive between locations, daily drivability through a whole host of manoeuvres between each shot (our photographer can be very precise) and the car’s capabilities whilst on the incredible roads at each of the locations. 

As we’re talking about a photo shoot, it feels only right to start with aesthetics – Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 is a very good car to look at. Whilst the Clubsport’s styling follows that of the new GTI very closely it features the addition of a few subtle bespoke bits here and there. On the front end, the main change is larger air vents that have air channelled into them by aggressive vanes that look as if they’ve been taken straight from a racing car – they help add the hit of dynamism that a hot hatch like this needs. That said, where the front end looks good, the rear end is by far the highlight. Despite being similar to the standard GTI, that fantastic new rear wing finishes the car perfectly and promotes ever more the sportier nature of this very special Golf.

On the move, GTI Clubsport looks even better – even so, this isn’t the car that you want to be following; you need to be at the wheel. Courtesy of some fiddling, VW have managed to not only grant Golf GTI Clubsport’s turbocharged engine a 34bhp gain over the standard Golf – making for 261bhp - but also the addition of an overboost feature that grants an extra 25bhp for 10 second bursts of acceleration. These power gains definitely make a difference; pointing Clubsport at a straight bit of road and pressing the right pedal is pretty exciting, taking you from a standstill to 60mph in just 6.3 seconds.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40

Our particular Clubsport was of the manual persuasion and, whilst the DSG is super quick at firing through the gears, it’s the one to go for if you’re after a more ‘traditional’ hot hatch experience. Regardless of which you were presented with, both are fantastic and offer no end of control over the car. As you’d expect both are quite simply pleasures both in town and on the twisty stuff. 

Talking of the twisty stuff, Golf GTI Clubsport is incredibly fun through corners; gripping in a way that you would never expect a front-wheel drive car to be able to. It feels poised and flat thanks to the bespoke suspension setup and manages to find continual grip through corner after corner due to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tyres and the front differential lock. If you want to truly test the Clubsport and reach its limits, you’ll have to take one to the track. On a spirited but sensible drive on a British B-road, however, Clubsport is incredibly predictable and subsequently promotes confidence and huge levels of fun – even when staying well within the letter of the law. 

Whilst the bespoke tuning pays dividends in terms of performance, you also really feel it when you just want to drive Clubsport in a civilised manner through town. As you’d expect, the ride is comparatively harder than standard but is in no way compromised when it comes daily use - it’s most definitely something that you could live with and enjoy regardless of the journey.

Regardless of whether you’re tootling along on the motorway or out on a Sunday drive, one thing that you will be able to appreciate is the interior. Remaining pretty much unchanged from the standard GTI, you get an incredibly nice Alcantara steering wheel and gear lever to play with and the option of part-Alcantara bucket seats. Our particular car had that option ticked; they were fantastically supportive, comfortable and aesthetically stunning.

All-in-all the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 feels like it was the perfect celebration of the model’s 40th birthday. It manages to combine the feeling and composure of modern hot hatchbacks whilst still retaining echoes of the original Golf GTI spirit that was loved by so many.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Leeds Volkswagen for very kindly letting us use their stunning Golf GTI Clubsport for the day. Sadly, due to the limited edition nature of the Golf Clubsport, all new examples have been sold. If you would like to register your interest should we receive an example into our Approved Used stock simply click here. Alternatively you can explore and enquire on the fantastic new Volkswagen Golf here.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40