‘Iconic’ is, perhaps, a word bandied around all too freely but, when applied to the mould-breaking Golf GTI, it can be used with genuine justification. The car that popularised the ‘hot hatch’ phenomenon is 40 years old in 2016 and, to mark the occasion, Volkswagen has created the most potent iteration of the GTI to date.

Available to order in Volkswagen UK Retailers now, the specially commissioned Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 celebrates four decades of a true automotive icon.

Powering this addition to the GTI range is a 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine that delivers 265 PS, making it the most powerful Golf GTI yet. But that’s not the whole story. Accelerate hard in third gear or higher and, for up to 10 seconds, an additional ‘overboost’ function increases the engine power to 290 PS.

The engine – which delivers its 265 PS between 5,350 and 6,600 rpm – is technically based on the 1,984 cc TSI engine that appears in the award-winning Golf R. This is a third generation EA 888 unit boasting technical refinements such as a water-cooled exhaust channel to the turbocharger that is integrated in the cylinder head, and variable valve timing with dual camshaft adjustment. Maximum torque, under boost, is 350 Nm.

In the new Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 this power is channelled entirely to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed DSG. The lightweight front-wheel drive system that is typical of the Golf GTI offers tremendous agility, working as it does in conjunction with an electronically controlled front differential lock and the XDS+ vehicle dynamics function.

The DSG version of the car is also equipped with launch control as standard. Just as with a track racer the Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 – which boasts an unladen weight of as little as 1,375 kg, depending on bodystyle – accelerates in a controlled manner from standstill using its maximum overboost power of up to 290 PS.

Top speed is limited to 155 mph and the 0-62 mph time for both three- and five-door versions – either manual or DSG – is a brisk 6.3 seconds. CO2 emissions* range between 158 g/km and 162 g/km depending on bodystyle and transmission choice, while combined fuel economy* similarly varies between 40.9 mpg and 40.4 mpg.

Power and precision

As with all Golf GTIs, the new Clubsport Edition 40 is equipped with a sport chassis with 15 mm lower ride height as standard. Up front, MacPherson suspension provides precise tracking while the modular performance suspension does the same job at the rear.

Equipped with a front differential lock as well as the XDS+ vehicle dynamics function and progressive steering – which means significantly smaller steering inputs are required – the latest Golf GTI is all the more agile because the familiar sport chassis has been tuned to its more powerful nature.

Specifically, its handling characteristics have been perfected by virtue of a new spring layout, newly tuned dampers and optimised bump stops. These measures, working alongside the specially modified aerodynamics, combine to deliver high levels of agility and steering precision along with extremely precise driving stability at high speed, linear and predictable vehicle reactions and optimised grip.

The anniversary model is also available with DCC dynamic chassis control as an option. This, too, has been adapted to the high power potential of the anniversary model via new control algorithms. The result is a car whose handling is more intuitive than ever.

Power is transferred to the road via 18-inch alloy wheels that are offered as standard with 225/40 tyres. These exclusive “Quaranta” forged wheels are nearly 3 kg lighter per wheel than conventional alloys. Optionally, the GTI Clubsport Edition 40 may be ordered with 19-inch “Brescia “ alloy wheels with 235/35 tyres. Another option: street-approved semi-slick 235/35 R 19 tyres on eight-inch wide “Pretoria” wheels.

Motorsport-style downforce

For this very special Golf GTI, Volkswagen exterior designers have created a completely new front bumper, new side sills, a rear diffuser that is also new, a new multi-part roof spoiler and exclusive forged alloy wheels. The goal was not to just help the car stand out from its siblings but, more importantly, to deliver valuable downforce on both axles and, thereby, improve the car’s dynamic handling still further.

At the front, the new design offers improvements in air supply to the engine, aerodynamics and downforce. The new bumper features high-gloss black air deflectors which route a portion of the airflow – guided by three additional bars – through a narrowing air duct (air curtain) on each side and thereby through the bumper. This optimises air flow around the bumper and front wheels. The air then exits in the wheel housings without striking the wheels directly. The central cooling air intake – in characteristic GTI honeycomb design – has also been further refined with two additional air intakes flanking the radiator grille trim. Beneath the bumper there is a front spoiler that is designed as a sharp splitter in high-gloss black. It optimises downforce at the front axle.

At the back, the much larger, multi-part redesigned roof edge spoiler has been aerodynamically perfected in the wind tunnel. The two-part roof edge spoiler extends upward above the roof line while at the sides the spoiler merges homogeneously into the high-gloss black flaps on the tailgate. Multi-part spoilers of this type are complex components that perfectly fulfil the aerodynamic tasks assigned to them: to significantly increase downforce on the rear axle.

Unmistakably GTI

Inside, the new car features iconic details that are essential for every GTI. These include the ergonomic sports seats with a tailor-made look featuring Alcantara and black cloth upholstery; red topstitching; a gear knob in golf ball design; and a black headliner.

Optional ergonomic sports bucket seats with prominent lateral support provide optimal comfort and stability when cornering and are stylishly finished in part Alcantara/part cloth, with the GTI lettering sitting proudly on the backrest. Meanwhile, black honeycomb patterned backrests and seat centre section with red seaming perfectly complement the dynamic and sporty interior.

New trim strips in “Honeycomb 40” design (instrument strip, centre console and doors) give the interior an even more exclusive appearance. Sporty decorative features include Alcantara trim on the gear lever, an Alcantara-clad sport steering wheel (with GTI emblem, red seam and 12 o’clock marking) and customised floor mats with red edging. When the driver and front passenger open the doors, they see the exclusive stainless steel door sill plates with red GTI lettering.

The anniversary model is being offered with optional black painted roof which is combined with one of the body colours: Pure White; Tornado Red; Oryx White mother of pearl effect; Reflex Silver; Carbon Grey Metallic; or Urano Grey. The solid colour Deep Black pearl effect is also available.

Production of the new Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 is time limited, and it is anticipated that no more than 1,000 examples of the latest ‘collector’s item’ GTI will be made available to UK buyers.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40 is available to order now, priced from £30,875 (RRP OTR), with deliveries of first customer cars expected this summer.

* Fuel consumption and CO2 figures are obtained under standardised EU test conditions (Directive 93/116/EEC). This allows a direct comparison between different manufacturer models but may not represent the actual fuel consumption achieved in ‘real world’ driving conditions. More information is available on the Volkswagen website at www.volkswagen.co.uk and at www.dft.gov.uk/vca