VW Golf GTI Clubsport 45 Celebrates 45 Years Of GTI

Volkswagen marks the 45th anniversary of the Golf GTI with this rather special Clubsport 45 model. 

It may not seem like it but the Golf GTI has been around for 45 years already. For what that originally began as an after-hours engineering project by a group of Volkswagen engineers in 1976, this iconic hot hatch has since become the most commercially successful ‘compact sports car’ in the world, with over 2.3 million units sold spanning 8 iterations. 

So in order to celebrate momentous milestone, Volkswagen has decided (once again) to tart up its hottest GTI to date, the Clubsport, and thus recently launched the Clubsport 45. Bringing with it some exterior, interior and even a few minor performance enhancements, for which VW claims to make this commemorative model ‘a ready-made collector’s item, even as new’. 

Starting first with exterior changes, the major distinctions that set the Clubsport 45 from the typical non-commemorative counterparts are its contrasting black roof and black rear wing. A feature that supposedly pays homage to the to the black-framed rear window of the first Golf GTI. 

Continuing on the topic of black, this particular Clubsport comes as standard with bespoke gloss black 19-inch Scottsdale alloy wheels. Complete with a narrow Tornado Red pin-stripe along the rim of those multispokes to match the red trim strip that are a signature of the front end of all GTI models, including on this latest Golf Mk8 iteration. 

Other tell-tale signs on the outside that this is the Clubsport 45 includes the custom ’45’ lettering on the side sills, as well as on the boot lid. Underneath the boot lid meanwhile nestles an Akrapovic sports exhaust system, which comes as part of the Race package fitted exclusively to this commemorative model. A package that also incidentally includes the removal of the standard 155 mph (250 km/h) Vmax limiter fitted to all GTIs.

As for the rest of the powertrain on the other hand, this commemorative model is otherwise largely the same as its standard Clubsport counterpart. Meaning that under the hood lies 2.0 litre EA888 turbocharged four-cylinder sends 300 PS and 400 Nm of torque through solely its front wheels via a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, and VW’s trick electromechanical front-axle locking differential. 

Now moving on to the interior of the Clubsport 45, Volkswagen has taken a more subtle approach within the cabin of this commemorative model. Adding only GTI lettering on the front sports seats, and a tiny ’45’ badge on the base of the multifunction sports steering wheel. 

Presales for this commemorative GTI will begin in selected European countries on the 1st of March, with prices slated to cost from €47,490 (RM 233,000) in Germany. A premium of €6,225 (RM 31,000) over the standard Clubsport that starts from €41,265 (RM 202,000). 

There has been no word yet from Volkswagen on whether the Clubsport 45 will be available in other regions. Though seeing as the new the new Golf isn’t actually even here in Malaysia yet, it is safe to say that this special edition GTI won’t arrive in any official capacity any time soon. 

PRESS RELEASE: In the summer of 1976, Volkswagen launched a distinctively sporty Golf onto the market: the GTI. At that time no one at Volkswagen had any idea that the Golf GTI would eventually become the world’s most successful compact sports car. But that is exactly what happened – from production of the 5,000 vehicles that were originally planned to well in excess of 2.3 million today. Now Volkswagen is marking the 45th birthday of this iconic car with an anniversary model: the Golf GTI Clubsport 45 – an exclusive edition of the 221 kW/300 PS Golf GTI Clubsport. Extensive individualisation makes the Clubsport 45 a ready-made collector’s item, even as new. First presales will begin in selected European countries on 1 March. Price in Germany: from 47,790 euros.

Even the “standard” Golf GTI Clubsport is technically distinct from the classic Golf GTI, with features including a 55 PS turbocharged engine (TSI) and the Special driving mode for race tracks. Visual highlights of the Clubsport include larger air intakes (delivering more oxygen to the TSI), a specially designed open roof spoiler to allow improved airflow (greater downforce), and a separate sport exhaust system.

The Clubsport 45 is ready to take to the road with more individual customisation than ever before. The exterior boasts a striking black roof complete with black roof spoiler, in homage to the black-framed rear window of the first Golf GTI. With the Race package, which is available as standard and exclusive to the Golf GTI Clubsport 45, equipment includes 19-inch Scottsdale alloy wheels in a high-gloss black finish, with a narrow accent pinstripe detail in Tornado Red. The Race package also includes a sport exhaust system and removal of the Vmax limiter (otherwise top speed is limited to 250 km/h). Lettering on the side sill panel and the “45” added to the lettering on the boot lid underpin the impression of dynamism. The Clubsport 45 series also features IQ. Light LED matrix headlights with the red trim strip which is included on all GTIs.

The interior of the anniversary model also showcases classic GTI insignia. Embellishments include GTI lettering on the backrests of the front premium sport seats. A “45” adds character to the multi-function sport steering wheel at the centre spoke (at 6 o’clock).

With the new Golf GTI Clubsport 45, Volkswagen is adding a new chapter to the high-performance GTI versions released: The original Golf GTI Clubsport was launched in 2016, on the 40th birthday of the cult sports car. That first member of the Clubsport series achieved 195 kW (265 PS) and could temporarily deliver 213 kW (290 PS) using a boost function. That same year also saw the arrival of the Golf GTI Clubsport S, which had a constantly attainable maximum performance of 228 kW (310 PS). In autumn 2020 Volkswagen released the new Golf GTI Clubsport, a car which featured the first-ever instance of the standard electromechanical front-axle locking differential control being integrated into the driving dynamics manager network – as does the newly launched Clubsport 45. This intelligent connection sets a new benchmark in driving dynamics.

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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