Not a bad way to celebrate the GTI’s 40th anniversary.

It might be hard to believe, but it’s been 40 years since a group of German engineers, managers, and enthusiasts met in a room and created the Golf GTI – one of the hottest hatchbacks to ever grace the roads we drive on. Since 2001, VW has launched an anniversary model of the Golf GTI every five years to commemorate the amazing hatch, and this year it’s launching the Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 – a special hatch with a few bespoke features, a mild power upgrade, and a special feature to give you a little extra pep in your step when you need just a little extra juice.

The Clubsport 40 should come as big news for those who were hoping to get their hands on the Golf GTI Clubsport S that was produced in just 150 examples in the U.K. This model is being produced in 1,000 examples, so there a bigger chance you’ll get one. And with that extra bump of juice, it comes pretty close to the 306-horsepower output of the Clubsport S. We haven’t had a chance to get our hands on one of these special-edition models yet, but word is that performance is right on point, and there’s more than just a special-edition badge to set this baby apart from the crowd.

With that said, let’s dive on in and take a good look at this special edition model before all iterations of it are snatched off of the market as well.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40.

What makes the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 special

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 Exterior
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VW had very little to say about the subtle differences that come along with this special-edition GTI, but with a trained eye, you can spot them from a mile away. Again, it’s not much, but it’s enough to make it stand out in the crowd. To start, VW gave the Clubsport 40 a new fascia that is deeper than that of the standard GTI and has larger air intakes. Behind the air intakes you’ll find air channels that send plenty of air to the brakes for optimal cooling during extreme maneuvers. To the rear, there’s an extended roof spoiler that will help create just a hint of extra downforce, and down below there’s a new diffuser that serves the same purpose. Finally, there’s a pair of 18-inch alloy wheels that are lighter than those on the standard GTI and “Clubsport” decals mounted on the front fenders to emphasize that this hatch isn’t your standard GTI.

Again, it’s not much, but it’s enough to make it stand out in the crowd.

Inside, there isn’t a whole lot to write home about, but you will find a flatbottom steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara and held together by red stitching. There’s also a red stripe at 12 O’clock and a “GTI” emblem between the two legs of the lower spoke. If you don’t select the right option, you’ll get standard seats from the Golf GTI Clubsport. But, those outlets that have managed to get their hands on tester models have found that the £1,350 optional buckets that are partially wrapped in Alcantara offer superior side a shoulder support. But, in selecting these you’ll find that entry to the rear on three-door models is more difficult as the seats don’t fold forward easily, and you’ll also lose the Pre-Crash occupant protection system. Other niceties include a leather trimmed shifter knob, GTI lettering on the door sills, and a special plaque:

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 High Resolution Interior
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The real asset of this special-edition model, however, is what lurks under its short hood. VW took the EA888, 2.0-liter four-banger and massaged it to deliver 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. But, there’s also an overboost function that up the horsepower to 286 horsepower for up to 10 seconds under full throttle. It’s also said to have a bespoke suspension system for better handling and if you look closely, you can see the upgraded brake calipers finished in bright red with GTI letting. All told, the Clubsport 40 can hit 62 mph in 6.3 seconds with the DSG transmission and can hit 155 mph before the electronic speed limited kicks in. And, in doing all this, it still manages to attain 40.4 mpg and a CO2 output of 160g per kilometer.

Volkswagen Golf TSI Volkswagen Golf TDI Volkswagen Golf GTI Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport
Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder 2.0L, inline four cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM 150 HP @ 3,500 RPM 227 HP (242 HP with Performance Package) 261 HP
Torque 200 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM 236 LB-FT @ 1,750 258 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 7.7 seconds 7.8 seconds 5.5 seconds 6.3 seconds
Top Speed 124 mph 125 mph 130 mph 155 mph

But, the real question that remains is how does the Clubsport 40 actually drive, and is it worth the investment? Well, AutoExpress managed to get their hands on one and, in their review, said, “Unsurprisingly, it feels considerably faster than the standard GTI when you push it. It has the same torque output as that car, so doesn’t feel much quicker at the lower ends of the rev range, but above 4,500rpm the Clubsport pulls with impressively strong vigour right to the redline. The DSG gearbox fires through the ratios as rapidly as it always has, too.”

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 Interior
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2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 Interior
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Inside, there isn’t a whole lot to write home about, but you will find a flatbottom steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara and held together by red stitching.

Whatcar has also played around with one of the special editions, and was fairly impressed with it, but not for the price. When speaking of whether or not you should buy one, they said, “No, unless you love the idea of owning a limited run GTI that may, perhaps, hold some future cachet for collectors. It has more performance and feels slightly more agile to drive than the standard GTI, but these things aren’t enough to justify that sizeable price hike. If you’re willing to spend around £30,000 on a hot Golf, then the Golf R is a much better buy; it’s faster, easier to drive quickly and more comfortable. However, if you want the ultimate performance hot hatch for Clubsport money, then buy the marvellous Focus RS instead.”

Speaking of price, the Clubsport Edition 40 is priced at £30,875 in the U.K., which computes to about $37,759 as of December of 2016. To put that into perspective, the Golf GTD starts runs anywhere between £26,995 and £29,390, While the GTI runs between £27,495 and £29,930, and the Golf R runs between £31,685 and £33,755 as of December 21, 2016. Pricing varies based upon final configuration, but it should be noted that the R comes with 295 horsepower on tap at all times, without the need for an overboost function limited to 10 seconds. With that said, it looks like the Clubsport 40 really is for those who humor the idea of having a special-edition model in the garage, but hey – to each their own, right?

Press Release

As 2016 winds to a close Volkswagen in the UK is looking back on 12 months of celebrations, records and record-breaking interest in one of the brand’s genuine automotive icons: the Golf GTI.

40 years ago a small group of German engineers, managers and, above all, motoring enthusiasts came together to create what was quickly to become a motoring phenomenon – the original Golf GTI.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 High Resolution Exterior
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Former Communications Director at Volkswagen, Anton Konrad, along with Hermann Hablitzl, head of Golf project development at the time; Herbert Schuster, a chassis expert who would later become a member of the board responsible for development; Jürgen Adler, a specialist in interior design; and Horst-Dieter Schwittlinsky from marketing were the originators of the GTI. They were later joined by Gunther Kühl from motorsport and engineer Alfons Löwenberg as they crafted the GTI unofficially and, essentially, in secret.

Initially engineered as an enthusiast project, it soon became clear after the first Golf GTI hit showrooms in 1976 that the brand’s initial predictions of 5,000 sales might have been somewhat conservative. Today – seven generations and more than two million sales later – the Golf GTI still engenders avid interest from enthusiast owners, and would-be owners, around the world.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 High Resolution Exterior
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The UK, long a hotbed for hot hatch appreciation, took the GTI to its automotive heart early and has remained true to this special Volkswagen for four decades. Indeed when the Golf GTI Clubsport S project was announced earlier this year Volkswagen UK took the bold decision to ring-fence no fewer than 150 of the 400-run limited edition GTI celebration models for its Retailers here, making the UK the world’s single biggest market for the ‘ultimate’ Golf GTI.

It was a decision that was soon vindicated as the Clubsport S sold out to eager buyers nationwide even before its £33,995 RRP price tag was officially announced in August. The Clubsport S is, currently, the ultimate expression of the GTI bloodline. The front-wheel-drive car’s 2.0-litre TSI engine packs 310 PS, enabling a blistering 7m 47.19 s record lap time around the infamous ‘green hell’ of the gruelling Nürburgring Nordschleife and a top speed, where legal, of 164 mph.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 Interior
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Those who missed out on the Clubsport S here though might perhaps have been tempted by the brand’s GTI Clubsport Edition 40 – 1,000 of which were offered to UK drivers in 2016. Powering this latest special edition in the GTI range is a 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine that delivers 265 PS, with an additional ‘overboost’ function increasing the engine power to 290 PS for up to ten seconds under intense acceleration.

Priced from £30,875 (RRP OTR) the GTI Clubsport Edition 40 features a host of bespoke additions and enhancements to mark it out as a potential future classic and, like its extreme, track-honed cousin the Clubsport S, it also sold out within weeks of arriving in Retailer showrooms.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 High Resolution Drivetrain
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In the UK, a series of events has been held to celebrate the GTI’s enduring appeal. Among the highlights, an eclectic mix of Volkswagen Golf GTIs from across the model’s remarkable 40-year history journeyed to Volkswagen UK’s headquarters in Milton Keynes on Saturday, 20 August, to attend a special ‘birthday celebration’ for the iconic hot hatch.

The unique event, organised in association with the UK’s largest online motoring forum – PistonHeads.com – saw the owners of 85 GTIs from across the years make the pilgrimage to the cars’ spiritual home in Britain – the headquarters of Volkswagen UK in Milton Keynes.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 Exterior
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Internationally, the 35th Wörthersee Meet in Austria saw tens of thousands of GTI fans travel to the picturesque Reifnitz on the southern shore of Lake Wörthersee for a gigantic party to celebrate the 40th birthday of the cult hot hatch. Volkswagen took all seven generations of the Golf GTI along, as well as the Clubsport and Clubsport S for Volkswagen enthusiasts to admire.

While Volkswagen’s Golf Gran Turismo Injection has evolved significantly from its earliest iteration – the 0-62 mph acceleration time of the original 1976 car, at 9.2 seconds, is eclipsed significantly by the Clubsport S’s 5.8 seconds for instance – the sporting ethos and commitment to everyday driving fun remains true to that of the original.

With a new Golf GTI due to debut in 2017 boasting more power, enhanced technology, refreshed styling and more equipment than ever before the future looks bright, too, for one of Volkswagen’s true icons.

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