On reflection, who could have forecast the success that would follow for the Golf when it was introduced by Volkswagen back in 1974. Then it was seen as very much a people’s car just like the Beetle which it replaced; but history does relate a wonderful success story as the Golf not only had a variety of names including, Rabbit and Caribe.
It was, of course, to develop into such as the GTI, the most successful hatchback of all time and the story continues with yet another exciting chapter with the Volkswagen Golf with the launch of the GTI Clubsport, a model with 300PS on tap. This new member to the Golf clan continues the tradition of high performance GTIs and some may recall that the first Clubsport was launched four years ago on the 40th anniversary of the iconic sports model. The new model impresses with outstanding drive performance thanks to the innovative Vehicle Dynamics Manager and the new Nurburgring driving profile is configured to suit the track characteristics of the legendary Nordschleife to deliver impressive driving dynamics. Many of the details in the new model have been enhanced, including the even more agile turbocharged engine and the new sports running gear equipped with a new VDM. The Vehicle Dynamics Manager already closely integrates control of the electronic differential locks (XDS) and the lateral dynamics components of the optional adaptive chassis control DCC. Even at this level, the feature offers noticeable electromechanical front-axle locking differential is now included in the VDM’s network for the first time. Welcome news for many who target handling as a priority, is that the new model handles even more neutrally and precisely than the classic Golf GTI. For the legendary Nordschleife track, Volkswagen engineers had a challenge and the. mission was for the Clubsport version to fit in on the race track and it certainly looks the part with its customised front end which is very striking.
The bumper looks almost open at the bottom as only the radiator grille trim with the honeycomb design typical for GTI models and the larger aerodynamic wings offer resistance to the head wind. At the rear, the two-part roof spoiler catches the eye, which is a unique hallmark feature reserved exclusively for this model. The front spoiler and rear wing are much more than just design features; they significantly increase the downforce on the car. Built in the huge Volkswagen plant at Wolfsburg, the Clubsport is equipped with 18 inch alloy wheels fitted as standard. A special diffuser, a body lowered by 10 millimetres, and wider side sills also enhance the overall sporty impression. Another new feature, oval tailpipes replace the round version in the sports exhaust system, with one tailpipe positioned on the left and one on the right of the body.
A number of GTI-specific features also customise the vehicle interior, including premium sport seats in ArtVelours, which even provide support when cornering at high speed, plus a sports steering wheel with perforated leather grip zones. Paddles for the standard seven speed dual-clutch gearbox DSG of course and aluminium-look pedals and other superior details round off the exclusive interior design. Worthy of reflection, the original member of the Clubsport series developed 265 PS and temporarily delivered 290 PS using a boost function. This car was followed in the same year by another Golf GTI Clubsport in a limited edition of 400 units with a continuously available output of 310 PS. Driving the Golf GTI Clubsport S, professional race driver Benjamin Leuchter set a new lap record for front-wheel-drive vehicles on the Nordschleife in May 2016 with a time of 07:49:21 minutes. He was certainly not hanging around.
There is little doubt in my mind that the Golf GTI in what ever state of tune has remained one of the most desirable sports hatchback models available it seemingly goes on forever and with every new generation the fan club swells further. There are few cars which have managed to face the test of time; the Golf is certainly one of the few. Throughout its lifespan it has become a firm favourite for road and track and it has many more years of service. Even as I put these words together yet another chapter with the news of the new Golf R with some one hundred more PS than the Clubsport. The Golf is rather like the South Korean movie Never Ending Story; no doubt I will be reporting on further chapters.