Talk about overachievement.
In May, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S set a Nurburgring lap time of 7:49.21, which was a record for front-wheel drive cars at the famous German racetrack. But VW just revealed that it went back to the ‘Ring in October and set an even quicker time of 7:47.19. The Clubsport S beat its own record by about 2.0 seconds, and is now about 3.0 seconds quicker than the next-quickest front-wheel-drive car, the Honda Civic Type R.
The Clubsport S is no ordinary GTI. Built to celebrate the GTI’s 40th anniversary, it uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine similar to the one in the standard GTI, but with a larger turbocharger. The result is 310 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, a massive gain over the 210 hp (220 hp with the optional Performance Package) and 258 lb-ft of the base model.
Volkswagen also emphasized weight savings, which is why the Clubsport S has front-wheel drive instead of the all-wheel drive system from the similarly-powerful Golf R, and uses a six-speed manual transmission instead of the more sophisticated DSG dual-clutch gearbox. Other weight-saving measures included removal of the rear seat, floor mats, and some sound-deadening material, as well as the use of some aluminum components and a smaller battery.
The Clubsport S that set VW’s most recent Nurburgring lap record was completely stock apart from a roll cage added for safety reasons, according to the automaker. It’s fairly impressive that a stock vehicle based on one of the world’s best-selling economy cars can set lap times at a pace that was once reserved for supercars. Granted, the Clubsport S is also about as rare as some supercars: only 400 were made, and the model was never imported to the U.S.
Volkswagen may not hold onto the front-wheel drive Nürburgring lap record for long. New versions of two previous record holders, the Honda Civic Type R and Renault Mégane RS, are on the way, and may just give the GTI Clubsport S a run for its money.
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