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Driving report VW Golf VII GTI Clubsport

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Driving report VW Golf VII GTI Clubsport
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W The Golf GTI club sport has not really imposed itself. Okay, the most prominent of all sports badges will celebrate its fortieth next year, and that traditionally has to be celebrated with a special edition, but this time there is a problem.

Because even if club sport is once again the strongest, fastest and most dynamic GTI of all time, it is just one of many, perhaps one of far too many. If you go through the group brands from Audi to VW, there are currently eight compact sports models with a two-liter turbo and Golf architecture in the range between 200 and 300 PS - not even counting the different body variants.

VW Golf GTI Clubsport gains 265 hp - like the Leon Cupra

This is now the ninth and with its 265 hp it lands exactly where the Seat Leon Cupra already stands, which also costs around 2,500 euros less.

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Body tattoos with' Clubsport 'insignia and a rather lavish roof spoiler.

But what do you do when you run out of space? Exactly, you can create one. On the one hand, this happens on an emotional level: with body tattoos, with the standard, more comfortable than spartan sports bucket seats and mythical interior decoration.

On the other hand, one tries to pull club sport out of the muddle in terms of engine technology: the four-cylinder comes from of the EA888 extended family, but is working with overboost for the first time. In other words: when kicking down, it increases the boost pressure by 0.2 bar for ten seconds, thus releasing an additional 25 hp and 30 Newton meters. Actually aNice unique selling point, if it didn’t exactly meet a Seat Leon again, this time the Cupra 290, which mobilizes the 290 PS permanently and is also cheaper.

On paper, that's done with it. But only on paper. Because VW has actually managed to distill a certain independence from the common parts. In plain language: even if the technical components of club sport are in fact not very different from such a Leon Cupra, it feels a bit different. Pithy, indiscreet, unshaven somehow.

Rossen Gargolov
The Seat Leon Cupra 290 can do a lot as well as good as the Clubsport GTI. And it's cheaper.

Fine-tuning of the rock-solid chassis architecture

The basic structure remains the same as with most of the sports combinations from the modular transverse construction kit: multi-link rear axle, McPherson principle at the front, front-wheel drive. In addition, there are the features of the performance version of the GTI in the form of the larger brake and the electrohydraulically controlled limited-slip differential. All of this was then fine-tuned, stiffened, contoured and supplemented by two decisive elements.

One is the aerodynamics that should now generate downforce: light at the front, significant at the rear. How much exactly at what speed you don't want to reveal, only that it is created via the front splitter and the double-decker rear spoiler and has a stabilizing effect on driving behavior.

Well, stable it is true, the club sport itself on a route like Portimao, which also arches many of its fast arches over knolls. The extent to which this is due to aerodynamic concerns is difficult to estimate, simply because the second element with which VW supports the lateral dynamics is a far more dominant one.

VW Golf GTI Clubsport for the first time with sports tires

Because with this fifth anniversary edition, the GTI can now enjoy real (optional) sports tires for the first time, the same that Seat also offers for the Leon Cupra - just by the way.

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Flattened sports steering wheel and six-speed manual transmission.

One lap lasts it until they start to build up real grip, then but - but then. The 250 km /h top speed, the power-to-weight ratio of 5.2 kg per horsepower, the 5.9 seconds to a hundred - all of these may be the figureheads for GTI clubsport, but its specialty is revealed when turning.

From this moment on, it combines precision with bite, can be precisely positioned on the fixed progressive steering and pulled out of the curve so precisely at the threshold of sliding friction that the Golf R has to seriously fear for its driving dynamics supremacy. All-wheel drive or performance advantage.

Let's try to illustrate it this way: There are transversely locked front-wheel drive cars that constantly wiggle the steering angle, wrestle with you and you with them. That can be funny, but also counterproductive when it comes to veritable performance. In any case, club sport is not one of these bullies. Instead, it shifts its locking effect very sensitively between power development and steering angle, just so that you can feel it and react to the delicate understeer tendencies via the steering and accelerator pedal. Accurate, very targeted and completely intuitive.

And so the GTI then clubbing, buckles itself on the ideal line, snaps - as it should be for someone like him - dry in faults or relaxes the dampers in comfort mode and remains golf through and through. As I said: a sports model that is not imposing, in any way, again and again.

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