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Inspired by Porsche, Volkswagen could unleash a 300-hp GTI designed for the track

Volkswagen celebrated the 40th birthday of the first-generation Golf GTI with a limited-edition model named Clubsport (pictured) that gains an array of go-fast goodies and a generous bump in power. The Wolfsburg-based car maker might up the ante once more with a faster evolution of the Clubsport designed primarily to hit the track.

Engineers followed the recipe that Porsche used to create the 911 GT3 Clubsport, which is aimed at buyers who want a street-legal track toy. Tentatively called Clubsport Lighweight, the hatchback uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque thanks to a host of minor changes such as a re-tuned turbo. Front-wheel drive remains the only configuration offered — all-wheel drive would cannibalize Golf R sales — but the ubiquitous turbo four can be bolted to either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch unit controlled by shift paddles.

The rear bench and a good chunk of the GTI’s sound-deadening material have been tossed out to reduce weight. Performance specifications aren’t available; for what it’s worth, the 265-horsepower Clubsport sprints to 60 mph from a stop in 5.7 seconds.
Volkswagen is currently testing prototypes both on and off the track, and it sounds like the super-GTI is essentially ready for production. However, executives are debating whether or not to move forward with the project. While it’d certainly be popular among the enthusiast crowd, the company is worried about how a track car will be perceived in a time when it’s trying to forge itself a green, eco-friendly image in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal.

Related: Volkswagen could preview its upcoming sub-Tiguan crossover with a concept in Geneva

British magazine Autocar has learned that Volkswagen will bring the GTI Clubsport Lightweight to the annual enthusiast meet that’s held next to Lake Wörthersee in Austria in May. Volkswagen will present the hatchback as a close-to-production concept in order to gauge the public’s reaction. If it’s approved for production, it will likely be limited to less than 100 units worldwide.