The Clubsport S is VW's hottest Golf GTI yet, is more powerful than even the four-wheel-drive Golf R and is VW’s most track-focused Golf GTI yet, recorded a 7min 49.21sec lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Prior to the Clubsport S's official unveiling, Autocar was granted exclusive access to the car and its engineers during final testing at the German circuit.
As can be seen in these images, a few key identifiers mark the Clubsport S out from regular Golf GTIs and the standard Clubsport model. Although the aero package is unchanged from that of the Clubsport, the S features a larger twin exhaust and the 19in wheels required for its standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
To achieve the Nürburgring lap time, which is 1.4sec faster than that of the previous record holder, the preproduction Honda Civic Type R, the Clubsport S has been extensively modified compared with the standard Clubsport.
Thanks mostly to the removal of the rear seats and much of the sound deadening material, weight has been reduced by 30kg. The six-speed manual gearbox is unchanged from that of the standard GTI, with VW saying the time gained in shift times by using a DSG dual-clutch automatic would be lost by the 20kg weight penalty. The retention of a manual gearbox will also appeal to the purists VW will want as customers for the limited run of 400 Clubsport Ss.
Air conditioning is likely to be a no-cost option, and the smaller infotainment screen fitted to this car is expected to be the only available system.
A comprehensive rework of the suspension includes adaptive dampers that have been calibrated to include what engineers have dubbed a ‘Nürburgring setting’ as part of the Individual mode. This keeps the dampers fairly supple to deal with the kind of awkward surfaces and undulations that characterise the German circuit, but with enough control to ensure a fast time.
There are also revisions to both axles, along with tweaks to the camber and the castor, intended to give the Clubsport S even more tenacious turn-in and boost driver confidence. The model also gets an aluminium front sub-frame and aluminium carriers for the brakes, the latter benefiting unsprung weight that is key for composure on the Nürburgring.