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Flat-out at the Ring in a Clubsport S

3 years ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


27 February 2021

I’ve been driving the new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport, which is a very good hot hatch that’s made to feel slightly underwhelming by the near flawless Honda Civic Type R. By my reckoning, the aesthetically-troubled Japanese hatchback has now dispatched the hottest GTI there is, the very best RenaultSport can manage right now in the Megane 300 Trophy and, though it was a marginal win, the excellent Ford Focus ST as well.

So the new Clubsport needn’t feel ashamed for having emerged from its encounter with the Honda the loser. Greatness will trump excellence every time. What might upset the Clubsport more is knowing that the whole time I was driving it, I was daydreaming of its older sibling, a different Clubsport altogether. My mind was elsewhere, fondly remembering all the times I drove the stupendously capable Mk7 Golf GTI Clubsport S.

I know this isn’t a like for like comparison. Perhaps there’ll be a new Clubsport S with a manual gearbox like the last one (the current Clubsport is DSG only), no rear seats and similarly exquisite damping. Maybe then my affections for the Mk8 GTI will begin to simmer, but until that happens I will respect and admire the current GTI line-up, but no more than that.

What exactly was it that made the 2016 Clubsport S such a superstar? For one thing it looked tough without straying into the hot hatch funhouse were the Civic Type R frolics so merrily with its enormous wings and silly vents. It also had a great cabin (so long as the lack of rear seats didn’t make it entirely redundant for your needs, which would be entirely understandable) and with more than 300bhp, it went like stink.

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