2025 VW Golf GTI Clubsport bows with 296 hp

Volkswagen used the backdrop of the past weekend’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring endurance race to debut a new generation of its Golf GTI Clubsport limited edition.

The hardcore hatchback is based on the updated 2025 Golf GTI expected to reach showrooms in the U.S. later this year, and packs that car’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine but with output dialed to 296 hp, which is the highest of any GTI. The current GTI packs 241 hp and in the updated 2025 model the horsepower rating is 262 hp for Europe. U.S. specifications for the updated GTI will be announced closer to the market launch.

Like in all GTIs, drive in the GTI Clubsport is to the front wheels only, via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and an electronically controlled differential lock. Quoted performance numbers include a 0-62 mph time of 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph as standard or 166 mph with an available Race package. VW didn’t say what else is included in the Race package.

Another available feature to improve performance of the Golf GTI Clubsport is VW’s DCC drive mode selector. Unique to the Clubsport is a drive mode developed for carving up the Nürburgring. It controls things such as the suspension and steering and has been tuned specifically for handling the undulations and curves of the German racetrack, the automaker said.

The Clubsport also differs from the standard GTI by way of a new front fascia with a simplified design. The VW logo at the front is also illuminated for the first time, and some tweaks to the internals of the lights at both ends are also present. VW also introduced a new 19-inch wheel design with the Clubsport, whose design was inspired by the Golf GTI’s iconic Detroit-style wheels. For extra performance, VW will also offer a forged 19-inch wheel weighing just 17 pounds. The upgrade will reduce unsprung mass, which enhances handling.

The last Golf GTI Clubsport was launched for 2021 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first GTI’s arrival in 1976. Similarly, the latest version celebrates this year’s 50th anniversary of the Golf nameplate.

Don’t expect the Clubsport version to reach the U.S. as the last one was never sold here. However, for local buyers wanting more performance than what the updated Golf GTI delivers, VW has an updated Golf R debuting in the summer. Like the updated GTI, it should reach the U.S. for 2025.

VW also had a specially prepared GTI Clubsport 24h race car competing in the Nürburgring 24 Hours race. The car’s engine was dialed up to 343 hp, helped by a new E20 fuel being developed by Shell with 20% ethanol content, which the race car, fielded by Max Kruse Racing, helped test during the weekend’s race. The car finished first in class in the race which was paused for 14 hours and eventually called off early due to heavy fog.

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