Volkswagen, and the whole Volkswagen group for that matter, love a good special edition. And since 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the Golf GTI, VW has announced a new special edition for the 2016 model year, known as the GTI Clubsport . But unlike many special editions, this is more than just a new special paint color, although it has that too. It has a number of different components, both inside and out, and unlike so many other special editions, actually puts out more power than the standard GTI. So extensive is the makeover that it seems Volkswagen is trying to plug the gap in the lineup between the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI and the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R.

But even if the decision to make the Clubsport was based on cold, calculated business choices, it is a very appealing car. It will be officially revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show, but VW has released number of details, excluding price, ahead of time. But a lack of pricing might not be such a big deal, because the sad truth is that VW doesn’t have any plans to bring the car to the U.S.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport.


2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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It wouldn’t be an anniversary edition without special badging, and the Clubsport’s comes in the form of a stripe along the still, reminiscent of the one found on the 1976 GTI. The side mirrors are a high-gloss black instead of matching the body color, and the roof is given the same treatment. The car comes standard with the same 18-inch wheels as the standard GTI, but optional 19-inch wheels that are exclusive to the Clubsport will be available. The side sills, front bumper and rear diffuser are all reworked, and the roof spoiler is much larger and now multi-part.

The exhaust tips are slightly larger than the standard GTI, although not by enough to be absurd. This is one of those appearance upgrades that you’ll notice if you’re looking for it, but will probably go unnoticed by most people. That isn’t a bad thing though, it would have been easy for VW to go overboard on this one and it’s always nice to see a bit of restraint. This car is painted in “Oryx White.” VW says that other colors are available, but the white certainly looks good.


2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Interior
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2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Interior
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The interior hasn’t been as noticeably reworked as the exterior, but a surprising number of details have been tweaked. The biggest difference is the seats, which are now folding racing buckets in place of the standard sport seats. The plaid upholstery has been largely replaced with a honeycomb pattern, also appearing in the trim on the center console, doors and gauge cluster, but there are still touches of the plaid here and there. After all, it wouldn’t be a GTI without it. Alcantara is used extensively, on the seats, steering wheel and shift lever. The usual GTI red stitching is still present, and has even been added to the seat belts.


2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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Now we’re getting into the really important stuff about this car. The Clubsport has the same 2.0-liter turbocharged engine as the standard Golf, but here it makes 261 horsepower. That’s a very serious upgrade from the 210 you’ll get a regular GTI, and an overboost function is on hand to give you a bump to 286 horsepower for a period of 10 seconds at a time. Volkswagen claims that the car will hit 62 mph in 6.0 seconds with the six-speed manual or 5.9 seconds with the dual-clutch tranny.

Those numbers OK, but they’re almost certainly incorrect. The Germans, and VW in particular, tend to be very conservative with these kinds of estimates, and the real numbers are possibly as much as a second faster. Just consider this, the 210-horsepower GTI hits 60 in 5.8 seconds, and the 292-horsepower Golf R hits it in 4.5. So unless VW for some reason added 500 pounds of extra weight to the car for no reason and without telling anyone, expect the actual number to be somewhere in between those of the GTI and the R.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type turbocharged direct-injection engine
Output 261 HP
0 to 100 km/h 6.0 seconds
Top Speed 155 MPH
Transmission 6-speed manual (6-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) optional)


2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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VW made no mention of a single safety feature that is different from any other Golf. But that’s okay, the Golf has a five-star rating in both NHTSA and Euro NCAP crash tests. It has a backup camera, but VW has wisely passed on things like lane departure warnings and other electronic nannies that enthusiasts generally find incredibly annoying.


2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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At least $30,000. Pricing the Clubsport directly in between the $25,000 GTI and the $35,000 Golf R is exactly the sort of thing that Volkswagen would do. That said, it does seem like a lot of extra equipment and power for a mere $5,000 more than the GTI. So it’s very possible that it will go a bit north of that midpoint, but definitely don’t expect it to go for any less.


2015-2016 Subaru WRX

2015 - 2016 Subaru WRX Exterior
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An STI will be a bit more in the price range of the Golf R, but you can get a fully loaded regular WRX for what you’re likely to pay for a GTI Clubsport. It packs a couple more horses too, and officially hits 60 mph a full second faster. Styling is duller, and for some reason there is an optional CVT. You don’t get the special edition exclusivity, but it’s a damn fine car.

Read our full review here.

2015 Ford Focus ST

2015 Ford Focus ST High Resolution Exterior
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Simply put, this car has Clubsport power for a regular GTI price. It definitely has the VW beat in the value for money department, although so do a lot of GTI competitors. The racing stripes are a bit garish on a hatchback, but you have the option to delete them. It might not be the car for taking on the Clubsport when tenths of a second count, but it is a way to have a lot of fun for less money.

Read our full review here.


2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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The $10,000 price gap between the GTI and the Golf R is a substantial one for this price range, but I think this in between model is a good call. It’s really such a good call that it wouldn’t be too surprising if VW was using the special edition to see how popular such a model would be, and if it works, eventually add it as a permanent part of the lineup. Otherwise it is an unusual amount of work to put into a special edition. So who knows, maybe there’s a future for it, and if we’re very lucky, there might even be one on our side of the pond.

  • Leave it
    • a more expensive version of a dangerously pricey model
    • interior has ceased to be understated
    • yet another awesome VW that won’t be sold here
Jacob Joseph
Jacob Joseph
About the author

Press Release

At the beginning of 2016, the iconic sporty compact—the Golf GTI—celebrates its 40th birthday. Volkswagen will mark this historic event with a dramatic special edition: the new Golf GTI Clubsport. Volkswagen will present the production version at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, offering a first look at the most powerful production GTI ever.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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The company that invented the GTI is thus continuing the tradition of anniversary models, as exclusive special editions also marked the 20th, 25th, 30th and 35th birthdays. The turbocharged and direct-injection engine in the anniversary model delivers an output of 195 kW / 265 PS, 35 PS more than the previous most powerful Golf GTI. That isn’t all, however. For a short time—for about 10 seconds—the driver can increase engine power by an additional 10 per cent to more than 290 PS using an overboost function. This added power is activated simply by pressing the throttle fully.

The Golf GTI Clubsport sprints from 0 to 62 mph in 6.0 seconds with a 6-speed manual gearbox; with the optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DSG), the time is reduced to 5.9 seconds. The Golf GTI Clubsport has a top speed of 155 mph with both transmissions. Despite all this power and performance, the car is frugal: the manual transmission car has fuel consumption of 33.8 mpg (equivalent to 160 g/km CO2), which improves to 34.8 mpg (155 g/km CO2) with the DSG gearbox.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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Not only has the anniversary model got more power, but Volkswagen has also extensively revised the design, equipment and aerodynamics. Due to the high power output and significantly improved downforce, the Golf GTI Clubsport has groundbreaking handling properties at high speeds and breathtaking cornering speeds.

The Golf GTI Clubsport is painted in “Oryx White” (other colors available), with the roof contrasting in black. The exterior designers created a completely new front bumper, new side sills, a new rear diffuser, a new multi-part roof spoiler and exclusive forged aluminum-alloy wheels for the anniversary model. These features immediately make the anniversary model stand out from the regular GTI models.

In terms of style, the side profile of the Golf GTI Clubsport is based on the original GTI: the first generation was characterized by a wide black trim stripe on the side between the front and rear wheelarches at sill level. This stripe is replicated on the side of the anniversary model, paying homage to the 1976 Golf GTI, and is enhanced with “Clubsport” lettering. The black trim stripe is continued at the front around the air scoop incorporated in the front bumper. The optional “Brescia” 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels were specially designed for the new Golf GTI Clubsport , while the standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are also a new design. Another special detail is the high-gloss black door mirror caps.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Exterior
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The redesigned roof spoiler, honed in the wind tunnel, is much larger than its counterpart on the current GTI. There is a narrow gap between the black roof area and the wing-like spoiler placed above it. The roof spoiler is finished in high-gloss black on the underside with “Oryx White” above the roof line. The lower rear section of the car has also been individualized. The redesigned, chrome-plated twin tailpipes have been elegantly integrated in the diffuser; the diameter of the tailpipes is much larger than on the regular Golf GTI models. The LED rear lights are finished in dark black-red.

The interior features iconic details that are essential for every GTI, including ergonomic sport seats featuring tartan fabric upholstery, red stitching, a golf-ball-shaped shifter knob and black headliner. These sporty features have been modified for the Golf GTI Clubsport: the seats are folding racing buckets instead of sport seats, for instance, and are partially covered with Alcantara and feature a honeycomb pattern on the backrests and seat cushions. A red line enhances the seat belts. New trim strips in “Honeycomb 40” design on the instrument panel, center console and doors give the interior an even more exclusive appearance. Sporty decorative features include Alcantara trim on the shift lever, an Alcantara sport steering wheel (with GTI emblem, red seam and 12 o’clock marking) and customized floor mats with red edging. When the driver and front passenger open the doors, they see unique stainless steel kick plates with red GTI lettering.

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