The VW Golf GTI Clubsport Might Be a Better Hot Hatch Than the Golf R

With its 242 hp (245 PS), the standard Golf GTI is all the hot hatch some people will ever need, but in today's landscape where the Honda Civic Type R, for example, puts out 320 hp, you're tempted to want a little more, even if you don't necessarily need it. Owning a performance-oriented car is as much a game of numbers as it is of actual driving enjoyment, and 242 hp isn't going to get you too far.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 8 photos
Photo: YouTube screenshot
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That's one of the reasons why the Golf R is the king of the Volkswagen range. That, and the fact it gets an all-wheel-drive system that means harder launches and better all-round performance whenever conditions are less than ideal. However, thanks to the new Golf GTI Clubsport, there's a strong case to be made against the R and its 4MOTION AWD system, and here's why.

For starters, the Clubsport brings the GTI's output a lot closer to the R's, offering 296 hp (300 PS) from the same engine block used by all three iterations of a Volkswagen hot hatch. "Wait," you'll say, "that's great but it's still less than what the R is making. How is that better?" It's not, but the 20 hp gap isn't too relevant either.

Besides, since the Clubsport lacks the R's AWD system, it's also lighter (by almost 200 lbs/90 kg), which means the power-to-weight ratio is comparable. The fact it weighs less makes it nimbler overall, and out on the road, you don't need to have power sent to the rear wheels as well. At least not as long as the sun is shining.

The Clubsport isn't just a more powerful GTI either, having a few other upgrades that change the way it handles both on the road and on the track. Its suspension is dropped by 0.6 inches (15 millimeters), it has bigger and lighter brakes (reduced unsprung mass), and sports a more negative camber. All these seem to be aimed at improving the Clubsport's cornering abilities, which would explain why it's considerably quicker around the Nordschleife compared to a standard GTI.

You can give the clip below a watch to hear every reason why Joe Achilles, the man reviewing the Clubsport, thinks it might be better—or, at least, more fun—than the Golf R. Or you can take this as a conclusion: apart from a drag race and maybe a wet road, there are no other situations where the more expensive AWD Golf makes more sense than the GTI Clubsport. So, depending on the weather in your region and your propensity to drag race, you might be better off settling for the Clubsport instead of going all-out for the R.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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