Watch: The Golf GTI Clubsport S Proves that FWD is the Correct Wheel Drive

A scant eight years ago, Renault went crazy with weight-saving fever (an affliction the autocrossers among you are no doubt familiar with) and took the back seats, back glass, sound deadening, radio, a/c and just about everything else that wasn’t absolutely central to business of driving out of its Megane and called it the R26R.

Although we did not get it here, it was, according to Drive Tribe’s Henry Catchpole, the gold standard for searing hot hatches. Taking things one step farther than the normal hot hatches, it set a Nurburgring lap record for front wheel drive cars. And though its record may have been beaten in the subsequent years, according to Catchpole, nothing has quite been as good since.

Nothing, that is, until Volkswagen decided to celebrate the Golf GTI’s birthday. Wolfsburg’s engineers weren’t quite as fervent, leaving in the glass and the radio, but they did take out the back seats and put a roll cage in their place, so it’s not exactly a runabout.

The result was a Nurburgring lap record of its own (since beaten by Honda) and one of the only cars to match and perhaps exceed the Megane’s brilliance, according to Catchpole. With 300 hp, a chassis designed by the engineer behind a Porsche 911 GT3, and only one transmission option (six-speed manual), the Golf GTI Clubsport S is the business.

“Such is their brilliance,” says Catchpole summing up, “that they even question the need for all-wheel drive.”