260 horsepower is Volkswagen’s way of saying “Happy 40th, GTI!”

Now well into its seventh generation, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is about to turn 40-years old. To celebrate the milestone, Volkswagen is building a hot-rodded version of the hatch called Clubsport that stands out as the most powerful street-legal GTI ever built.

Power still comes from a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but it has been tweaked to deliver 261 horsepower in its standard state of tune. When more power is needed, a temporary overboost function that’s turned on by pushing the gas pedal in all the way unleashes 290 ponies for short ten-second bursts.

Volkswagen GTI Clubsport

The additional grunt allows the Clubsport to reach 60 mph from a stop in six seconds flat when it’s equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. Selecting the optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox lowers the 0-60 time to 5.9 seconds, though top speed remains pegged at 155 mph regardless of which transmission is chosen.

Volkswagen knows better than to mess with an icon. Instead of giving the Clubsport a full-on retro design or an overly aggressive look, designers have added discreet upgrades like an entirely new front bumper with a wider air dam, deeper side skirts on both ends, and a model-specific rear bumper that integrates a pair of bigger exhaust tips and a new air diffuser.

18-inch alloy wheels come standard, and 19-inch units can be ordered at an extra cost. All Clubsports come with a black stripe that runs right above the rocker panel, a styling cue that harks back to the original Golf GTI that Volkswagen introduced in 1976.

The story is largely the same on the inside, where the Clubsport features add-ons like bucket seats for the front passengers, an Alcantara-upholstered three-spoke steering wheel with a 12-o’clock mark, red contrast stitching and, of course, a golf ball-shaped shift knob.

It’s not too far-fetched to assume the Golf GTI Clubsport will go on sale shortly as a limited-edition model, but Volkswagen is keeping full details under wraps for the time being. We’ll learn more details — such as how many examples will be built and how much each one will cost — in the near future.

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