The fastest get faster as German tuner drives up the Golf GTI Clubsport’s performance credentials

When you have a car that already holds the Nürburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive production car, there’s little reason to expect the car to be capable of bigger and better things. While that may be true in a production sense, the aftermarket world is a different beast altogether. Previously thought of to be improbable are being made possible with the right program and no more is that evident than ABT Sportsline’s newest aftermarket program, one that specifically takes on the record-setting Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport, otherwise known as the king of the ‘Ring as far as FWD cars are concerned.

So how exactly did ABT Sportsline get to improve on a car that already packs 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in standard guise and a ridiculous 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque in its more powerful “S” configuration? The short answer, of course, is tuning know-how. The German automaker is one of the most respected tuners in the aftermarket scene, a level it has attained after years of churning out impressive tuning kits for a wide range of makes and models.

ABT’s program for the Golf GTI Clubsport is no different as it packs a comprehensive list of upgrades that includes a new aero kit, interior upgrades, suspension improvements, and of course, an engine program that revolves around the tuner’s award-winning New Generation tuning module.

The results on the Golf GTI Clubsport and the Clubsport S are significant. The GTI Clubsport, for example, gets its power up to 335 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque while the Clubsport S sees its output shoot up to 365 ponies and 339 pound-feet of torque. For a hot hatch that already boasts of being the standard-bearer among all hot hatches, it seems unfair that both versions of the Golf GTI Clubsport still has a room for improvement.

Then again, that’s why ABT Sportsline is considered as one of the best in the business.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline.

Exterior

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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ABT Sportsline’s aerodynamic upgrade for the Golf GTI Clubsport is a perfect example of subtle additions that all add up to create a sportier look for the hot hatch while also improving its driving and handling characteristics. Up front, the tuner’s work mainly revolves around adding a new front grille that includes the ABT logo to go with new headlamp covers. Move to the side and you’ll see that the mirror caps have also been replaced and small side skirts have been introduced. The skirts are barely visible from afar, but if you look closer, you’ll notice them.

Completing the tuner’s work on the exterior of the Golf GTI Clubsport is a new set of wheels ranging from 18- to 20-inch in sizes. Customers can also choose among three different wheel types - Felge, complete wheel set, or sport alloy wheel set - to go with four different color options, including Black-Red, Gun-Metal, Gun-Metal/Diamond-Machined, and Mystic Black.

Identical upgrades are also available for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S.

What other tuners are offering

Truth be told, there haven’t been that many programs available for both the Volkswagen GTI Clubsport and its Clubsport S big brother. Shocking, right? Maybe it’s because some of these tuners think that the hot hatch is powerful and fast enough on its own that they won’t even bother to give it any upgrades. It’s either that or they prefer to just concentrate on a specific section of the hot hatch like what Speed-Buster did with its tuning kit for the range-topping Golf.

2016 Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster
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Note: photo of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster

The tuner has an intense engine tune available for the Golf GTI Clubsport (more on that later), but as far as exterior upgrades are concerned, Speed-Buster left that section out completely.

For now, ABT Sportsline’s exterior upgrades for the Golf GTI Clubsport is as good as you’re going to get for this particular section of the hot hatch. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though since it’s ABT we’re talking about here. As far as credentials and reputation go, the German tuner is as good as it gets.

Interior

If you’ve been a customer of ABT Sportsline, you know that if there’s one knock in the armor of the German tuner, it’s with the interior upgrades. Suffice to say, ABT doesn’t do a whole lot in this particular section and it’s evident with the interior options it has available for the Golf GTI Clubsport. There are no fancy leather appointments here, nor are there any carbon fiber trim of any sort. Instead, the tuner is offering items like a floor mat set that can either be bought with or without GTI logos and integrated entrance lights.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Interior
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2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Interior
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And that’s it.

They’re not much, but at least there are some options to consider. That plays well with customers compared to other tuners who ultimately leave this particular section of the car alone.

What other tuners are offering

This is exactly what I’m talking about. Concerning tuners like Speed-Buster, the lack of any meaningful upgrades in the interior can be seen as a disadvantage because there are customers who are more likely to look for a kit that offers work on all sections of the car. That’s not a knock on Speed-Buster because there are other tuners who prioritize engine upgrades above everything else. It would just be nice if there were more options to consider, right?

What Volkswagen is offering

Fortunately for owners of the Golf GTI Clubsport, there is another option to consider as far as scoring interior upgrades are concerned. That option is going to Volkswagen directly, which, at a cost, of course, is open to dressing up the interior of its own hot hatch. Look no further than what it did to the cabin of the special edition Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 as a peg on what options are available.

2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Interior
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2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport High Resolution Interior
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Note: photo of the interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport

Does a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara sound nice to you? How about contrast stitching to add some color to the interior? Other options like a leather trimmed shifter knob and GTI lettering on the door sills were added to the special edition Golf so I’m pretty sure that owners of the hot hatch can ask Volkswagen to add those upgrades to their Golf GTI Clubsports.

Drivetrain

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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This is the main event of ABT Sportsline’s tuning kit for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport and there’s good reason for that. Since the hot hatch comes in two forms - the standard GTI Clubsport and the GTI Clubsport S - the German tuner presented two different engine upgrades, one for each version of the hot hatch.

The common theme here is ABT’s New Generation tuning module, which is made up of software upgrades to the hatchback’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. For the Golf GTI Clubsport, ABT Sportsline was able to increase the output from 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to an impressive 335 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. As ridiculous as those numbers sound for the hot hatch, it gets even better if you’re Golf GTI Clubsport has that “S” on it.

Should you have the more powerful Golf GTI Clubsport S, ABT Sportsline’s power upgrade for the variant takes the output from that same turbocharged four-cylinder from 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque to an incredible 365 horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque. Yep, that’s a hot hatch with close to 400 horsepower on tap. Ridiculous.

ABT didn’t dive into the specifics of the 0-to-60-mph times, but it did point out the increased top speed for each of the two Golf GTI Clubsport variants. Check out the numbers in the table below.

Model Power Torque 0 to 60 MPH Time Top Speed
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport (standard) 261 horsepower 258 pound-feet 5.5 seconds* 155 mph
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport (with ABT Sportsline’s engine upgrades) 335 horsepower 317 pound-feet 4.7 seconds* 166 mph*
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S (standard) 305 horsepower 280 pound-feet 5.2 seconds* 164 mph
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S (with ABT Sportsline’s engine upgrades) 365 horsepower 335 pound-feet 4.5 seconds* 166 mph

Note: *estimate

What other tuners are offering

Just like ABT Sportsline, Speed-Buster’s lack of any meaningful upgrades to the exterior and interior of the Golf GTI Clubsport is offset by an engine upgrade program that nets significant power and performance gains for the hot hatch. The tuner’s program revolves around a vehicle-specific, plug-and-play Chiptuning-Box that not only alters the data from the engine sensors but also remaps them the information straight to the engine control unit. Once all that work is done, Speed-Buster’s work on the Golf’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine nets an output of 326 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque.

Compare that to what ABT Sportsline is offering and Speed-Buster is actually close to what its rival was able to coax out of the Golf. Take a look in the table below.

Model/Tuner Power Torque 0 to 60 MPH Time Top Speed
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport / ABT Sportsline 335 horsepower 317 pound-feet 4.7 seconds* 166 mph*
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport / Speed-Buster 326 horsepower 306 pound-feet 4.8 seconds* 165 mph*

Note: *estimate

Suspension

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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ABT Sportsline also has suspension upgrades for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport as customers can choose from a variety of options, including suspension springs that lower the front axle by 20 mm (0.78 inches) in the front and 25 mm (0.98 inches) in the back. If those aren’t extreme enough, the tuner also has a height-adjustable suspension kit that can lower the hot hatch anywhere from 10mm (0.39 inches) to 65mm (2.56 inches) in the front and 20mm (0.78 inches) to 65mm (2.56 inches) in the back. Anti-roll bars are also available for those who prefer to get those too.

Pricing

The price for ABT Sportsline’s program for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport will vary depending on the components that a customer chooses. It is worth noting though that the New Generation tuning module for the Golf GTI Clubsport costs €2,290, or around $2,444 based on current exchange rates. Meanwhile, the same module for the Golf GTI Clubsport S is €200 more expensive at €2,490, or about $2,658 based on current exchange rates.

By comparison, Speed-Buster’s Chiptuning-Box comes in at a much lower price of just €549. That converts to $613 based on current exchange rates. And for an extra €50 ($56), customers can get an app that can control the kit from a smartphone.

Competition

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster

2016 Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster
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Since this is the only tuner that has a comparable program for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport, let’s take one more look at what Speed-Buster has available for the hot hatch. As was mentioned, the kit is only comprised of an engine upgrade that nets an increased output of 326 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque. Speed-Buster didn’t specify how the added power affects the performance time of the Golf Clubsport GTI, but safe estimates suggest that the hot hatch would be capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before peaking at a top speed of about 165 mph.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline High Resolution Exterior
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Given the current status of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport and the Clubsport S as two of the fastest and most powerful front-wheel drive cars in the world today, there’s a point to be made that the upgrade being offered by ABT Sportsline is an exercise in excess. Some might even ask if it’s necessary given what the hot hatches are already capable of on their own. To that, I say "yes," it’s necessary, even though I will admit that these upgrades are more for vanity than anything else. You can’t deny someone’s wish to get more power out of their car, can you? That’s how I look at it, and to ABT Sportsline’s credit, it has never failed in giving its customers those opportunities.

  • Leave it
    • * Interior upgrades are "meh"
    • * Pricier compared to other options
    • * Golf GTI Clubsport is fast and powerful enough in it of itself
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