Previewed as a concept at the annual VW fans fest at Lake Worthersee in Austria, the production-spec 2016 Volkswagen GTI Clubsport rolled into the Frankfurt limelight looking virtually identical to its one-off predecessor. The GTI Clubsport will go on sale early next year to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic automobiles of the last half century. Beyond its claim to being the most powerful factory GTI ever, the Clubsport also is one of the most visually engaging. Sadly, this fast and focused special edition will only be offered in Europe. 

Packing 261 ponies 

Like the concept, the limited-run GTI Clubsport packs a hotter version of VW's 2.0-liter turbocharged/direct-injected 4-cylinder EA888 engine. Revised to make 261 horsepower -- 35 more ponies than the Euro-spec GTI with Performance Package - it also boasts an overboost function that can bump that stat by about 10 percent for limited periods of time. Like the base GTI, power heads to the Clubsport's front wheels via either a 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed DSG automatic and out to the tires through an electronically-controlled XDS limited-slip differential. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is 6.0 seconds with the manual and 5.9 ticks with the DSG.  

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Finished in Oryx White with black and red accent element, the GTI Clubsport gets bolder bodywork that encompasses more aggressively styled front/rear fascia treatments and side sills, 18-inch forged alloy wheels -- 19-inchers are optional -- a unique rear diffuser with prominent twin bright-finish exhaust outlets, smoked-lens LED taillamps and a wind-tunnel optimized multi-piece roof spoiler. 

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That high-performance character carries over to GTI Clubsport's cabin, where racing-style front buckets are covered in custom cloth and Alcantara. That suede-like material also wraps the car's flat-bottom, multifunction steering wheel and shift lever. Stainless steel door sill plates with red GTI lettering and bespoke red-edged floor mats complete the look. Although the GTI Clubsport won't be making an Atlantic crossing, we're still hoping VW will see fit to offer some sort of dedicated 40th Anniversary GTI package here in the U.S., as well.

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