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New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport will be one of the last petrol GTIs

With the Mk9 Golf set to go all-electric the new GTI Clubsport is one of the last petrol-engined GTIs, and it's made its debut at the 2024 Nürburgring 24 Hours

Traditional hot hatchbacks are a dying breed, but for the Mk8.5 Golf, Volkswagen is turning out a pair of petrol-engined GTIs before the model goes electric for its ninth generation. The base GTI was unveiled earlier this year, and now it's time for the more powerful GTI Clubsport. 

A subtle evolution of the Mk8 in its design and dynamic tuning, the GTI Clubsport offers the same 296bhp from its 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as before, a 35bhp uplift over the standard GTI, with torque bumped up from 273lb ft to 295. 

This translates to a three-tenth advantage in the 0-62mph sprint, which the Clubsport completes in 5.6sec. Both GTIs are limited to 155mph flat out, but the Clubsport can be equipped with a Race package to raise this to 167mph. The braking package of the flagship has been upgraded to shed that extra speed more effectively, too.

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As before, power is sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed DSG gearbox (there’s no option of a manual), with an electronically controlled XDS+ differential managing distribution between them. The GTI’s diff and adaptive DCC dampers are controlled by a Vehicle Dynamics Manager software to set the car up according to your driving style and grip levels, with the Clubsport gaining a more performance-oriented calibration. For the Mk8.5, the system can measure the conditions more accurately for finer control of the car’s behaviour. 

The feel of the progressive-rate steering has been tweaked too, but there’s still scope to adjust the steering weight, damping and drivetrain response yourself via the GTI’s drive modes. As well as Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual, the Clubsport gets a Special mode designed to optimise the car for the Nürburgring, with softer damping paired to an aggressive powertrain map. 

The styling changes are mild to say the least. GTI aficionados will notice the new Clubsport’s revised LED light units and front facia, but the look is mostly familiar. A bigger rear wing, an Akrapovic exhaust (offered only with the Race package) and optional forged 19-inch wheels distinguish the Clubsport from the standard GTI, as well as black decals applied to the sills. 

Volkswagen has taken criticism of the Mk8 Golf’s infotainment system to heart, introducing new hardware and software for the Mk8.5. A 12.9-inch dash-mounted touchscreen is standard, running VW’s MIB4 software with new graphics, simplified menus and customisable shortcut functions. Touch sliders for temperature and volume controls sit below the screen, and finally feature backlighting for use at night. 

A 10.2-inch digital dash is also fitted, along with sports seats, a perforated sports steering wheel and stainless steel pedals, with carbonfibre trim inserts available at extra cost. Pricing for the new GTI Clubsport is yet to be announced, but expect it to come in at around £45,000 when it goes on sale.

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