Test at the Nürburgring!

In a compact group of more aggressive and/or radical sports, the wise Golf GTI was thought to be insensitive to provocations. And then, in 2016, the Golf 7 GTI Clubsport S was born, with the 2.0 TSI boosted to 310 hp, a manual gearbox, four semi-slippery tires and a three-door chassis free from the rear seat to have a nice time. 7 min 47 sec on the north loop of the Nürburgring (before the Mégane RS and Honda Civic Type R at the time!). In France, we had to settle for the “too short” Golf GTI Clubsport, but it still had an optional circuit package that was thoroughly tested during our intense testing at the end of 2016.

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport inside

History repeats itself after almost five years. In the spring of 2021, the Golf 8 GTI Clubsport 45 came along with the classic GTI with an increase in power from 245 to 300 hp, torque increased to 400 Nm (previously 370 Nm) and a racing package that combines 19 inch rims, Akrapovic exhaust and maximum Speed ​​It was launched at a speed of 267 km / h after removing the electronic restriction. Nice instruments unfortunately disappeared in the “non 45” GTI Clubsport, and remained in the catalog in 2022 with the rest of the improvements: an electronically controlled front differential lock, a specific rear spoiler, large brakes, not to mention the controlled suspension and the famous Nürburgring mode.


Engine: 17/20

Engine in brief. We no longer offer the 2.0 TSI Volkswagen, shown here in its final version EA888 evo 4 with increased injection pressure. Maximum torque and power ranges promise availability at all times (400 Nm between 2000 and 5200 rpm; 300 hp from 5300 to 6500 rpm!) and announce exciting performance: 5.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h and 267 km / h at top speed. Our test model was already the Golf GTI Clubsport 45, and it was unaffected by the electronic maximum of 250 km / h, which also gave us a good speed record on the German highway …

2022 Golf GTI Engine
Exhaust Akrapovic VW Golf 8

we saw. Like how he feels in the Golf 8 R, the driver of the GTI Clubsport car first wonders where the advertised horses are. Throttle insensitive, box-pounding reports of 1,300 rpm and an inaudible 300 TSI make you imagine yourself in the controls of the TSI 150 version, or even lower. Therefore, switching to sport mode is necessary in order for the car to wake up. But then we curse unnecessarily aggressive DSG box management (see next chapter) and overly harsh suspension. Single mode comes as a savior, as the engine and audio can remain in Sport mode, and the suspension and transmission in Comfort.

Once properly configured, the GTI Clubsport reveals its adorable personality. The 2.0 TSI’s fiery engine screams on acceleration, unobtrusively clicks on deceleration (thanks to the Akrapovic exhaust) and spins a bit hoarse than the Golf R’s (transmitted by the speakers as well, but no more artificial to the ear). Performance-wise, the R could also be a chickweed, climbing the GTI Clubsport early, just as aggressively and without the slightest breathlessness near the red despite its 20-horsepower deficit. Rudeness culminated on our famous downhill section of the German highway, although from the start under the “catapult” launch control logically less in the absence of all-wheel drive.

Bringing the GTI Clubsport to 296 km/h (!) on the table at the end of the effort, 7 km/h more than the Golf R, which stumbled here on an electronic lip (theoretically located at 270 km/h with the performance package, or even fast 250 km / h in the standard configuration). The result which is even more surprising as the meter is still accurate, our GPS recorded 292 km/h at a maximum speed of maxi (slope + wind in your back, what more could you ask for?). Width 15500 km, our test unit was definitely well established. But, in front of this result, there is reason to doubt the declared power at 300 hp.


Square: 13/20

box in lines. Unlike the Golf 7 GTI Clubsport before the restyling, the Golf 8 GTI Clubsport no longer offers a six-speed manual gearbox. It enforces the popular DSG seven-speed “wet” dual-clutch transmission. As with its Cupra Leon cousins, or even the Skoda Octavia RS, gearbox control becomes paddle and replaces the traditional lever with a small vibrator making trails in manual mode only possible. via Paddles on the steering wheel.

we saw. Capable of loading its reports in the blink of an eye and without the slightest loading break, the DSG Box looks perfect on paper. As is often the case, it is unfortunately penalized by annoying electronic management. Too lazy in normal mode (shifting up at very low revs, long response time when power is needed, free-wheel mode at the slightest deceleration even without using eco), steering becomes caricatured in sport mode: even on moderate acceleration, gears refuse to move up and keep the engine at very high revs.

DSG Box
Golf 8 GTI speedometer

If the manual mode corrects these errors down the road, it struggles to fully convince in using the circuit. Often you have to try to downshift several times during hard braking, while the gears pick up on their own when you get close to the maximum number of revs…often at the exact moment the driver decides to activate the correct plate. Unlike with previous generations of boxes, this dual operation fortunately no longer changes two gears at once, but we would have liked more autonomy when choosing a more radical driving mode.


Chassis: 16/20

Chassis in brief. Volkswagen still isn’t vocal about subtle developments in its running gear, announcing a 10mm lowering of the Golf GTI Clubsport with an increased counter-camber up front. It also features DCC-controlled suspension as standard, with a specific Nürburgring positioning that makes the shock absorbers more tolerant of degraded asphalt. The progressive, more direct steering on the steering and the electronically controlled limited-slip differential are taken from the classic Golf 8 GTI. Our test GTI Clubsport 45 was fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s for the occasion, which were used during the official test period (7 minutes 54 seconds, 10 seconds better than the classic GTI) but are strangely not shown in the official list of options. So it will be bought after the sale.


we saw. A handful of bends are enough to make sense that the Golf GTI Clubsport can score nice lap times on the North Ring. It combines all the qualities to shine on this fast and bumpy track: a textured suspension that absorbs distortions perfectly in the Nürburgring thanks to the more fluid writing than in Sport mode intended for smooth circuits; quite stable rear axle, which works correctly when braking hard at high speed or when overtaking bumps above 200 km / h; Very direct steering serving a cutting-edge front axle, further tightening its trajectory upon acceleration to gain a few kilometers per hour in the long curves of the north loop.

That delicate balance may frustrate drift enthusiasts (even the counter calls/calls struggle to wave the car, which then brakes excessively when skidding), but the GTI Clubsport is far from compact and boring. Despite the lack of all-wheel drive (hence Drift mode), it looked a lot more playful than the Golf R, which showed more inertia when changing lanes, and painful neutrality when re-accelerating (small traction losses in the Clubsport and the engine speed it produces contribute to In increased sensations!) And not the same impression of shifting in one block.

Obviously, the antenna holder for the track has nothing to do with this. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 is more efficient than the Continental of Golf R (or the Goodyear Eagle F1 Supersport of its Cobra Leon 300 cousin), provided you monitor its pressure carefully. Thus we removed up to 600 grams in the front tires and 300 grams in the rear tires compared to the recommended data on the road. In this case, you should consider resetting the values ​​before returning to the public road, especially before the new unlimited highway session…


Braking: 14/20

Briefly braking. More powerful than the classic GTI, the GTI Clubsport logically increases the braking system. The front discs, now drilled, are up to 357 mm in diameter and adopt two-piston fixed calipers. The car already inherits the assembly of its older sister, the Golf 8 R, more powerful by 20 hp and heavier by 93 kg.

Golf GTI Clubsport 45 rims
Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

We saw. This is the opposite of the superior grip of the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. If you allow the braking points to lag, they easily challenge the system’s endurance. Additionally, higher pressures and vibrations (due to shift speeds being pushed back into corners) seem to space the disc pads between two braking strokes, forcing you to “pump” once or twice to the pedal so you’re not surprised by the race. Too long.

Even with this precaution, the pedal gradually loses consistency as the system temperature increases. But let’s realize that over 20 km of the northern loop, golf will not give us any “heat”. As is often the case on production cars, the original pads would benefit from being replaced with models intended for this excessive use. Beware, however, of loss of homogeneity on the open road, which theoretically prohibits its use in the northern loop (not considered a closed circuit, but as a toll road).

Find the test results, the full technical sheet, plus prices, equipment and options for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport on page 2.

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