BEST GTI YET: Sean Parker spent a weekend with the Golf GTI Clubsport to get under the skin of Volkswagen's latest hot hatch. Image: Wheels24 / Sean Parker
Cape Town - There's a big difference between a BMW M4 and a Golf GTI Clubsport, and I'm not referring to the R1.2-million price disparity.
To get the most out of an M4, a driving style of 'slow in, fast out' is the best approach, mainly because it has close to 320kW and all that monstrous power is sent to the rear wheels.
The Clubsport however makes do with 'only' 195kW, channeled via a six-speed dual clutch gearbox sending power to the front wheels.
40 years of GTI
Thanks to one of the most well-balanced, front-wheel drive chassis fitted to a hot hatch yet, the Clubsport is able to tackle any bend with the arrogance of Donald Trump.
Wheels24 took it on a road trip in the Western Cape to find out more about the car VW built to celebrate 40 years of its GTI badge.
What's special about the Clubsport? Well apart from tangible enhancements such as Recaro seats (R8000 option), alcantara leather steering wheel, exterior decals and bigger exhaust tips, not much.
The cabin is well-made, the seats are comfortable for a long trip but come on VW... the interior doesn't have to be this dark and dreary does it?
Back to the route
The most important aspect of this car though is the driving experience. And that's exactly what I sort out to test. The Clubsport is available with adjustable dampers and an overboost function, increasing power up to 213kW (for 10 seconds) from the standard 195kW.
Gallery: 2016 Golf GTI Clubsport
The thrill of being in a sports car on some of the best roads is the ultimate dream and the Clubsport's accessible power, rock-solid suspension and go-faster bits all come together harmoniously to deliver a masterful driving experience.
It's the type of car that wants to be driven hard! Chuck it into a corner and the XDS (front electronic differential lock) does an awesome job of maintaining traction and ensuring there's more than enough cornering speed through every apex.
It's a marvelous system that genuinely turns the Clubsport into a sports car rather than just a normal hot hatch.
We took the Clubsport around the Koo Valley mountain pass and it shined along the twisting ribbon of tarmac. With the adaptive damper system set to its sportiest setting and traction control disengaged, the Clubsport turned the 7.6km stretch into driving nirvana.
'Our' Clubsport, as tested was priced at R619 350. It was fitted with R79 150 worth of extras including a R20 000 satnav, the R10 000 panoramic sunroof (that adds weight) and R18 000 racing Clubsport shell seats.
The base price is R541 520 and the only option we'd recommend is the adaptive chassis control (R11 850).
In the end...
After reflecting on driving the Clubsport on one of the best roads in the Western Cape, the top qualities of the new hot hatch that come to mind are; fast, comfortable and good looking.
The Clubsport is much more than a hot hatch, it has something special that awakens the hair on the back of your neck and puts a silly grin on your face that you can't get rid of.
It's not the fastest, the loudest or the cheapest car in the world but when you drive the Clubsport, you intrinsically know that this is more than just a hulk of metal to transport you to and from the office.
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