The Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S flies over the start/finish line of the “Green Hell” like an arrow. With German racing driver Benny Leuchter (28) at the wheel, the most powerful Golf GTI ever has just smashed the existing lap record for front-wheel-drive production cars on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Future contenders will have to beat Leuchter’s time in the GTI: 07:49:21. This exclusive new sports car, based on the Golf GTI Clubsport, has been developed to celebrate the GTI’s 40th anniversary. Even that model blurs the boundaries between production and racing cars, with its 195 kW/265 PS (which can temporarily peak at 213 kW/290 PS using the boost function) as well as aerodynamics that have been completely redesigned in many areas resulting in improved downforces. With the Golf GTI Clubsport S celebrating its world premiere at the GTI event at Lake Wörthersee (4-7 May), Volkswagen is topping off the legendary model line with a new crown. The hard performance data of the new Golf GTI flagship are permanently available power of 228 kW/310 PS; acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds; a top speed of 265 km/h (not limited) and an EU unladen weight (incl. the driver and luggage) that has been reduced to 1,360 kg. However, it is the record lap time around the Nordschleife that really demonstrates how exceptionally fast this car actually is.
As a world exclusive, the Golf GTI Clubsport S comes with a setting for the most demanding race track 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 driving profiles Comfort, Normal and Race are also available. Of course the driver can still adjust the settings in the Individual profile, as usual and can revert to the Nürburgring setting at any time before driving onto on the Nordschleife by resetting the Individual profile on the touchscreen menu. This unique configuration switches the Sound, Engine and Steering (fitted with progressive steering as standard) 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 of 400 cars is the total worldwide figure, 100 of which will be delivered to customers in Germany. The colours of the limited edition stick to those of the original GTI: “Tornado Red”, “Pure White” and “Deep Black Pearl Effect”, and the roof of the red or white GTI Clubsport S is also painted black. No matter where in the world this car makes an appearance, it will always be a two-door manual transmission to keep its weight down. In comparison to the two-door Golf GTI Clubsport with a manual gearbox, the net weight of the “S” was reduced significantly, to achieve a power-to-weight ratio of 4.15 kg/PS. The Golf GTI Clubsport S, which produces 380 Nm at between 1,700 and 5,300 rpm is a 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 details such as the insulating material, the variable luggage compartment floor, the rear parcel shelf, the floor mats and the bonnet damping pushed the weight down yet further. An aluminium subframe on the front axle and aluminium brake covers resulted in further weight savings. The 235/35 ZR Michelin tyres mounted on 19-inch “Pretoria” alloy wheels, which are so important for performance, the equally essential DCC, as well as a strut brace, a partition net behind the seats and a carpet in the rear, on the other hand, added weight, leaving a total weight reduction of approx. 30 kg, in comparison to a similarly equipped Golf GTI Clubsport, and thus a low DIN unladen weight of just 1,285 kg (EU unladen weight, incl. driver and luggage: 1,360 kg). At 310 PS this thus results in a dynamic power-to-weight ratio of 4.15 kg/PS. Less weight also means greater efficiency: 7.4 l/100 km (equating to 172 g/km CO2).
Golf GTI / 1976. In 1974, six men forge the secret plan to develop a ‘Sports Golf’. They carry the project through to the end. On what day of 1976 the first full-production GTI was built can now no longer be precisely identified. The fact is, however, that with its 110 PS and 182 km/h top speed it stirred up both the world of compact cars and that of luxury sports cars and saloons as well. 1983 sees the debut of the first special edition, the 112-PS ‘Pirelli GTI’.
Mk2 Golf GTI / 1984. A strategic stroke of genius follows one year later with the Mk2 Golf GTI. Still with 112 PS, it continues the conceptual course of the first generation. With identical GTI insignia. A newcomer had thus become a classic. An icon. As a result of the introduction of the catalytic converter, the power output briefly goes down to 107 PS in 1984. Two years later, Volkswagen compensates for the reduced power with a new 16V-engine, which delivers 129 PS even with a catalytic converter and matches the agility of the original GTI (139 PS, no catalytic converter). In 1990, a ‘G-Lader’ supercharger in the Golf GTI G60 increases power output to 160 PS.
Mk3 Golf GTI / 1991. In 1991, Volkswagen transfers the GTI insignia to the third generation. This begins with 115 PS. A year later, the power output goes up with a new four-valve engine to 150 PS. In 1996, a turbodiesel version (TDI) delivering 110 PS enriches the GTI concept. Some years later, the petrol and diesel versions ultimately split into GTI and GTD. 1996 also sees the launch of the ’20 Years of GTI’ anniversary model.
Mk4 Golf GTI / 1998. The fourth GTI generation, introduced in 1998, is very conservative in appearance. Technically, however, the 150-PS Mk4 Golf GTI is a car that keeps the competition at bay with its agility and quality. The four- and (in one case) five-cylinder petrol engines deliver up to 170 PS, while the diesels manage 150 PS. In 2001, the 180-PS special ’25 Years of GTI’ turbo model heralds a renaissance of the sporty icon.
Mk5 Golf GTI / 2004. With the debut of the fifth generation, the Golf GTI 2004 celebrates a grand comeback. With a much sharper look, a 200-PS turbo engine and superb driving characteristics, it catapults the GTI concept into the future. In 2006, to mark the cult car’s 30th birthday, Volkswagen gives its fans the 230-PS ’30 Years of GTI’ model. Identically powered, the reincarnation of the ‘Pirelli GTI’ is then launched in 2007.
Mk6 Golf GTI / 2009. With the sixth generation there follows in 2009 a Golf GTI that redefines the subject of traction with an electronic transverse differential lock (XDS). A now 210-PS GTI that is even more fun! A GTI that with a redesigned exhaust system creates a dynamic sound as well. For the first time it is also available as a soft top. This generation’s crowning glory comes onto the market in 2011 for the 35th birthday: the ‘Golf GTI Edition 35’ with 235 PS.
Mk7 Golf GTI / 2012. The seventh generation of the GTI launches in 2012 with two levels of power output: 162 kW / 220 PS from the base version and 169 kW / 230 PS from the Golf GTI Performance, the latter being equipped with a new front-axle differential lock. Based on this model there then follows in early 2016 the Golf GTI Clubsport, delivering via a boost function up to 213 kW / 290 PS. It blurs the boundaries with motorsport – and the Golf GTI Clubsport S being unveiled on the shores of Lake Wörthersee has now broken them down completely.