While we don’t know what Volkswagen will do with its Golf line after the ninth generation, we do know that the latest eighth-generation will only make it to America in the more expensive GTI and Golf R trims. The good news is that characterized by its lights in the grille, the 2021 Golf GTI is still rocking a six-speed manual and plaid seats. The somewhat bad news is that US buyers only get the ordinary GTI with its 245 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque; meanwhile, Europe gets to enjoy VW’s latest Golf flagship, the 296-horsepower GTI Clubsport.
The first Golf GTI Clubsport was launched in 2016 on the 40th anniversary of the hot hatch. That car was tuned to 261 horsepower and limited to 400 units, while the Clubsport S followed with 305 horses, only to set a front-drive lap record at the Nürburgring with pro driver Benjamin Leuchter behind the wheel. Four years later at 296 horsepower, the new series production Clubsport probably won’t do a 07:49.21 around the Nordschleife, yet it does come with an extra driving profile designed for attacking the Nürburgring at maximum velocities.
Packing 295 foot-pounds along with those 296 horses, the 2021 GTI Clubsport’s standard electromechanical locking differential is now also included in the Vehicle Dynamics Manager’s network, which is a first in the Golf. In the GTI, this system only controls the electronic differential locks (XDS) and the lateral dynamics components of the optional DCC adaptive chassis control.
VW is promising more downforce as well thanks to the Clubsport’s larger front splitter, two-part roof spoiler, new diffuser and 0.39-inch drop in ride height. The 18-inch alloy wheels are standard.
As a finishing touch, Volkswagen replaced the GTI’s normally circular sport exhaust tailpipes with oval ones. Now, we just keep waiting for a Clubsport S that could beat not only the Honda Civic Type R’s Nürburgring time but perhaps also the mighty Renault Mégane R.S. Trophy-R’s.
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