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The VW Golf GTI Clubsport is a 296 hp hot hatch with Nürburgring mode

That’s a lot of honeycomb.


A lot can happen in a year. This is usually the length of time between the release of a new generation Golf by VW in Europe and its final arrival in the USA. We haven’t even seen the new Golf in the US, but VW is already trotting out some cute new variants that will make us crave forbidden fruit again.

Volkswagen presented the new Golf GTI Clubsport on Wednesday. As with the first iteration in 201

6, clubsport is meant to be the pinnacle of GTI performance, bringing you as close as possible to the Golf R without overlapping it. The 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 makes 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. In the electronics there is a new vehicle dynamics manager that communicates with all electromechanical bits – such as the front axle differential – in order to increase the performance beyond that of the standard GTI.

You can tell that VW intends to get every inch of power out of the GTI Clubsport, as it even includes a special Nürburgring mode specially developed for tackling the 13-mile streak of German dynamic madness. The previous GTI Clubsport set the ring record for front-wheel drive vehicles in 2016. If you set that precedent, the new version has to be even better.

While the vehicle shown here is still a near-production prototype, it’s pretty much what European buyers can expect from the dealer. The body is far more aggressive, with a two-piece roof spoiler and a front splitter that increase downforce. 18-inch alloys are standard, and there’s also a unique set of tailpipes to replace the GTI’s round ones. The body was also lowered 0.4 inches.

Inside there are a number of Clubsport-specific details too, like a sportier steering wheel with perforated leather and some big old paddles for the standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The sports seats are more strongly padded so that your upper body stays planted even in fast turns. The eighth generation Golf is a pretty big step up in interior design regardless of the model.

While we’re depressed, those of us who live in the US will likely have to put up with the fact that GTI Clubsport is unlikely to be coming to the US. In fact, a number of golf variations won’t; When the eighth generation Golf debuts in the US, it will only be available in GTI and R flavors. But a child can dream …

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