The front-wheel drive Golf GTI Clubsport arrives with increased downforce, an improved chassis and a driving profile labelled ‘Special’ that is adapted for the Nürburgring. The Golf R offers more all-round appeal than ever before, with renewed 4MOTION all-wheel drive incorporating the new R-Performance Torque Vectoring system and the optional R-Performance Package adding a de-restricted top speed and Drift mode among other features.
With three performance Golfs already on sale in the form of the GTI, GTD and GTE, the arrival of these two flagship models gives fans of performance Golfs more choice than ever before. Both newcomers offer greater levels of focus and driver involvement. In addition, each model features a raft of equipment and driver assistance systems, including IQ.Light matrix LED headlights, keyless entry, Lane Assist and Travel Assist, which facilitates Level 2 assisted driving up to speeds of 130 mph (where legal). Car2X is also fitted, as per the rest of the Golf range, allowing communication between Car2X-equipped cars and infrastructure, to warn road users of hazards ahead.
The new Golf GTI Clubsport
The first of these new cars is the Golf GTI Clubsport. This model builds upon the already award-winning formula offered by the 245 PS/370 Nm Golf GTI, but dials the power output of its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine up to 300 PS and 400 Nm of torque for a 0-62 mph time of just 5.6 seconds. This makes it the fastest-accelerating production Golf GTI in history. Special features for the new car include a driving mode developed especially for the demands of the Nürburgring, a large two-part rear spoiler resulting in a reduction in lift over the rear axle, and an exclusive front bumper, offering not only augmented styling, but incorporating a new front splitter for greater downforce on the front axle. The rear of the Clubsport is also distinguishable from the GTI, with oval tailpipes, rather than the GTI’s circular pipes, which sit further apart either side of an enhanced diffuser.
In addition to exterior and performance upgrades, the Golf GTI Clubsport also benefits from the standard fitment of Clubsport-specific ArtVelours seats alongside the acclaimed Digital Cockpit Pro and Discover Media navigation system, offering greater convenience and style. The Golf GTI Clubsport starts at £37,215 RRP OTR.
The Vehicle Dynamics Manager system works in combination with all the electronically controlled running gear including the electromechanical front-axle locking differential and XDS electronic differential lock to eliminate the understeer often associated with front-wheel drive cars. This focus is complemented by a larger braking system, and can be further optimised with the addition of the optional Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive damper system.
The new Golf R
Meanwhile, the Golf R returns as the Golf’s outright flagship in terms of performance and positioning, now with 320 PS and 420 Nm on tap from its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, equating to a top speed of 155 mph (increasing to 168 mph with the optional R-Performance Pack), where permitted. The 0 to 62 mph sprint is dispatched in just 4.7 seconds – making it the fastest-accelerating Volkswagen on sale.
The powerful and advanced EA888 evo4 engine is installed with a 7-speed DSG transmission, and, like all vehicles from Volkswagen R, 4MOTION all-wheel drive. The system has been comprehensively uprated for the latest generation of Golf R, with the introduction of R-Performance Torque Vectoring that distributes the engine output to all four wheels. The new differential on the rear axle distributes the drive power not just between the front and rear axles, but also variably between the two rear wheels. Up to 100% of torque can be directed to the wheel on the outside of a bend if necessary. This, working in conjunction with the all-new Vehicle Dynamics Manager and XDS electromechanical differential locks, allows a higher level of agility and a reduction in understeer, which in turn contributes to even greater driver involvement and dynamics.
An optional R-Performance Package is available on the Golf R for £2,000. It brings upgraded 19-inch ‘Estoril’ alloy wheels, a performance rear spoiler for added downforce, and an increased top speed of 168 mph (where permitted). The pack also adds two new driver modes; Drift and Special. Drift mode is entirely focused upon driver enjoyment away from public highways. This mode uses the full potential of the new R-Performance Torque Vectoring and enables the driver to drift the new Golf R on private tracks. The pack also introduces a Special mode that provides the car with the perfect setup to tackle the famously challenging Nürburgring. This is an extension of the standard Race driving mode, in which the engine sound is increased, while the DSG, optional DCC, progressive steering and the all-wheel drive system are adjusted to a sportier setup.
The Golf R is priced from £39,270 RRP OTR, and sits atop the new Golf range. It is identifiable by its attractive 18-inch ‘Jerez’ alloy wheels, full R body kit, roof spoiler and quad exhaust pipes – a feature that subtly hints at the model’s potency compared with other Golf models. A bespoke, heated R steering wheel features, with a new R button which allows the driver direct access to the car’s newly enhanced range of drive modes without needing to take their hands away from the wheel. Extended paddle shifters also add to the driver-focused convenience of the model’s cockpit. Sports seats with integrated head restraints feature a ‘Sardegna’ design in black-blue cloth, unique to the new R models, while the outer areas are in ArtVelours. The model’s brake callipers are finished in the hallmark shade of Volkswagen R blue, and feature the R division’s logo, while the car’s door mirrors are finished in a matt chrome effect – another identifier of the powerful and enthusiast-focused Golf R.
Several accessories are available for the Golf R including an Akrapovič titanium exhaust, panoramic sunroof, Harmon/Kardon sound system and a head up display.