2015 Volkswagen GTI: Missing the Extra Half-Step
by Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor on October 12, 2015
When it comes to performance cars and hot hatches like our 2015 VW GTI, most manufacturers leave a little something on the table. And while that can leave the true enthusiasts whining and wanting for a more complete package, something that caters to their very narrow needs, it ensures most cars leave the factory with a good degree of compromise — something for everyone.
But there's always a room for improvement. There's always a half-step closer platform nirvana. Some manufacturers offer limited-run versions of their performance cars with more power, less suspension travel and a street credibility on the internet. Some offer in-house performance upgrades. These parts might have been cast off during the final vetting process as a half-step too far, but still well-sorted enough to sell as a package. It's automotive DLC.
These thoughts aren't particularly new ones to have about a GTI, but they are when you consider that I had them while ripping around in Focus ST.
To be fair, it wasn't just any Focus ST. The ST in question had a hatchload of trick parts from Mountune (lowering springs, a Quaife differential, a strut tower bar, a cat-back exhaust system, a new induction hose and a fresh engine calibration). It had better power delivery, sounded stronger, shifted a bit quicker, rode just fine and still packed its full factory warranty. And all that real world DLC only sets you back five grand.
How could I not think about our GTI? It standard trim, it's as capable as it is dull, a performance fleece in vehicle form and something engineered not to offend the people who accidentally bought the GTI instead of the TDI. In short, it's got at least a half-step left in it.
Just like Ford makes the RS, Volkswagen makes the Golf R. But VW does make a half-step for the GTI and it's all with in-house parts. It's called the Volkswagen GTI Clubsport and it's got more beans in the can, smart bodywork, wild seats, a sprinkling of suede to deliver a different look and feel to an already proven platform. Plus, it's built this way at the factory, so there's no need to take anything apart just to bolt on aftermarket parts.
That's the good news. The bad news? It's not available in the United States. Naturally.
But hey, maybe VW can use the empty space on the cargo ships once reserved by the TDIs that no one will be buying anymore and slip a few Clubsports into the States.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor