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Given that around 300bhp is an easily reached output for the third-generation EA888 engine, it’s no surprise that Volkswagen hasn’t had to work too hard to extract 306bhp for the Clubsport S – especially since it has a 326bhp version already running in endurance races.

The Clubsport S’s extra performance all comes from tweaks to the ECU and the fitting of a 65mm rather than 55mm-diameter exhaust, which reduces back pressure (and provides a healthy pop on upshifts or the overrun). The engine drives through a six-speed manual gearbox; there’s no DSG dual-clutch automatic option.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
I like an aggressive slippy diff set-up. For me, the active diff doesn’t do quite enough to tuck the front axle in on a trailing throttle. You can feel it dragging the car out of corners under power, but I’d rather it contributed more

The Clubsport S’s exceptional lap time doesn’t come from the engine, then, and neither is it all from its weight reduction process.

Quite a lot of things have gone: some acoustic material, the rear seats, boot floor and load cover and bonnet damper.

There’s an aluminium front subframe and aluminium brake bells, too. But in gaining a luggage partition, 19in alloy wheels and adaptive dampers, the Clubsport S’s weight drops by only 30kg over a regular GTI, weighing in at 1285kg.

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The on-track performance, then, comes instead from what Volkswagen has done with the chassis and aerodynamics – and the specially designed Michelin tyres, no doubt.

The aerodynamics are from the GTI Clubsport, while new bumpers reduce drag at the front and a spoiler at the rear gives greater stability. Not that an understeer-biased car like the Golf GTI needed that, so VW’s engineers redesigned the front suspension uprights to give more camber and generate more front-end grip overall, thus leaving the handling, VW says, neutral and stable. The variable-locking front differential and ESC received bespoke tuning, too.

But the Nürburgring is a long circuit and has many kerbs – so if you can shorten your route by going over them, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour. Scroll through the Clubsport S’s various drive settings, then, and you’ll find Individual mode, which is, apparently, the optimum setting for the ’Ring, putting the dampers in a special kerb attack mode.

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