Home / Social media / Cars / The Mk8 (.5) Golf GTi Clubsport is the most powerful FWD GTi ever and we must have one.


In the world of the Volkswagen GTi, there have been plenty special edition models over the years. For some, it’s hard to pick a favourite, but having driven in some kind of Volkswagen since getting my driver’s licence back in the day, this here SXdrv scribe has a list of the coolest GTis he’d like to see parked in his driveway one day. I’ve had a Mk1 GTi before, and it was one of the most fun cars I’ve had the pleasure ofr chucking around. It was the original hot hatch and that meant it had a brilliant power-to-weight ratio and could outperform cars with much bigger engine setups. It was also nicely modified too and was much, much better than the original 81 kW 1.6 litre 4-cylinder. Mine was bored out to a 2.0 litre and the cylinder head was converted to a solid lifter setup along with a 282-degree cam - it revved like a bike and could put a hurting to many newer performance cars. There were a few other Volkswagens in between, but the next one bearing the GTi badge only arrived around 2 years ago and has since become my daily driver. It’s a 2004 Mk4 GTi, the last of the Mk4s and that meant it came with the 132 kW AUQ motor that is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. It has a few tweaks to it, nothing major but it’s enough to give the car a decent 150 kW of power at the wheels with a very fun and usable 370 Nm of torque that kicks in at a smidge over 2,600 rpm. While the Mk4 used to be known as the fat GTi, it still only weighs just over 1,200 kg, and with the awesome gear ratios in the 6-speed ‘box and that healthy torque figure, it’s a stupendously fun car to drive. The way the power is delivered means it can embarrass cars with way more power, and the midrange torque means TLGPs look super impressive. The downside to this is that I cannot think of a car to replace mk Mk4 GTi with. Well, there are cars I’d like but none offer more than my 20-year-old GTi does and so I can’t find a reason to get into debt for a car. The only car I do want is the Mk7 GTi Clubsport, but their limited numbers in SA mean they cost more than they should now, and even though they tick all the boxes for me, I can’t justify paying the premium that they fetch here. I do have sales alerts on Clubsports on all car sales platforms though, just in case.

Why a Clubsport over an AWD R model? That’s because I love the fact that a front-wheel drive setup is a bit lighter, and also that it means fewer issues as well as being more budget-friendly when fixes are needed. The Mk7 Clubsport was also available with a manual 6-speed transmission, and that’s ultra-appealing. The drive is more engaged, and you don’t have all the DSG maintenance that can get quite pricey. The new Mk 8 (.5) GTi Clubsport that has just been revealed has remained in front-wheel drive guise, and it’s now the most powerful GTi to date with an output of 221 kW with 400 Nm of torque. The only part of the spec list that doesn’t appeal is the DSG transmission, but if I really had to, I’d live with it. To make the car special, and to cement 50 years of the GTi, there is a host of cool features and changes to the GTi. The LED Plus headlights have been revamped, there’s an illuminated VW logo up front, a large rear roof spoiler, redesigned LED tail light clusters, 19-inch Queenstown wheels (or the new 19-inch Warmenau wheels as an option), a newly developed multifunction leather sports steering wheel, a new infotainment system with the IDA voice assistant and ChatGPT integration, DCC adaptive chassis control and an electronically controlled front differential lock. The Golf GTI Clubsport also has an exclusive Special driving profile that matches systems to suit the track characteristics of the Nürburgring. This new Golf GTI Clubsport can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 5.6 seconds and it is electronically limited to a 250 km/h top speed. If the Race Package is optioned, the speed rises to 267 km/h. So while this new Clubport is only available with DSG, it’s still been added to my vision board. It will have to be a lot better than the Mk7 Clubsport though, especially if it’s going to tempt the kind of debt this car would put someone in. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but the car is likely to come it north of R1,000,000 - if any come to SA at all. 

Take a look at the YouTube video that shows off how dynamically cool the new Mk8.5 GTi Clubsport is and why it will become a highly-collectible hatchback in the future. It's an interesting thing, and it's been added to my automotive Vision Board: The new Volkswagen GTI Clubsport ft. Benny Leuchter | Volkswagen

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