What is it?
Volkswagen has a long and generally well-regarded history of celebratory Golf GTI anniversary editions. In the previous few iterations, the car has served as a run-out model and adheres to an established formula: more power, better looks. The principle has served Wolfsburg well: the Edition 30 and 35 were desirable cars, and improvements on the Mk5 and Mk6 respectively.
The latest version marks the GTI’s 40th birthday, but because it also signifies a slightly broader offering (there’s a five-door version, and also a lighter, loopier S model), the name Clubsport has been added to its moniker. Otherwise, the same recipe stands: the front-drive car getting 34bhp more than the standard model from the same EA888 engine, and a host of styling upgrades – including a rear diffuser and extended roof spoiler which the manufacturer says produces real downforce above 75mph.
At 261bhp, the Clubsport is the most powerful Golf GTI Volkswagen has yet offered – however, it’s clearly not ignorant of the fact that several direct rivals already exceed that output, because flooring the car’s accelerator accesses the ECU’s overboost function, which, for up to 10 seconds, provides an additional 25bhp – handily equaling the output of the top-spec Seat Leon Cupra 290.
Correspondingly, the interior is treated to a 10% upgrade too. Most notable are our car's optional brace of extremely good-looking racing bucket seats, partially finished in Alacantara (as are the gear lever and steering wheel). This, Volkswagen’s description of them, is slightly misleading; they’re actually supremely comfortable and conform perfectly to the usual upmarket GTI ambience - as overtly superior to its competitors as an Airbus A380 is to the 380 bus from Belmarsh prison.