VW Golf GTI Clubsport S - Image credit of Autocar.
By Ethan Burrell - Posted 14/02/2021. Post on DriveTribe also on 15/02/2021.
The art of adding aggression & unnaturalised flair to hot-hatches that didn't receive this treatment from factory.
Sam from Seen Through Glass inspired this piece with his Project Biposto series; which to paraphrase, is to modify a Gen 4 Abarth 595 in the style of a 695 Biposto from the generation earlier. As Sam touches on in his reveal video Abarth aren't planning on releasing a Gen 4 Biposto model which leaves a gap in the range for a hardcore version of the current car.
I saw this video and thought, what other hot-hatches didn't receive a hardcore variant that would make great project for doing so? It was a slow week in lock down admittedly, so in-between my chain eating of Sunday Roasts, I came up with the following list.
What is a Clubsport?
Before listing the various makes and models that I personally feel would make a great project for some OEM+ style modding, its probably a good idea to go over the core ingredients of a 'Clubsport variant'.
Think of the existing stable with these words tagged on: Trophy, Biposto, RS, Clubsport, GP etc.
Think what they all have in common; an emphasis on light weight & driving purity at the cost of practicality, increased performance both in a straight line and around the curves: sometimes with increased horsepower but not always.
With that in mind, what cars do I think would make great candidates for 'Clubsporting' them - these are project ideas so some are current models and some are older/discontinued.
Honda Civic Type R (EP3)
A truly fantastic car to begin with, a boyhood hero for me too. Reliable, great sounding and to drive in stock form with amazing aftermarket support to improve it. Add a nice set of aftermarket suspension (not too stiff, we don't want to ruin what makes the car great); a light tune, light weight wheels and the all important rear seat delete and a weapon we shall create.
Alfa Romeo Mito Quadrifoglio Verde
Again already a great but over-looked car (no biased detected). More of a premium hatch as standard, which makes it a nice livable car with a turn of pace; but by adding a little Abarth inspiration from the 695 you can make quite an exotic experience. Rear seat delete, a tune to around 200bhp, louder turbo noise, more aggressive diffuser with a louder exhaust, lowered suspension (the stock adaptive Skyhook dampers can stay, just a stiffer spring), the carbon Sabelt seats option fitted and lighter wheels; this is the one I would do for real.
Ford Fiesta ST (MK8)
Yet again, another great car already & already has improved version available; but with the strong aftermarket support existing for this car I feel we could still do better. Apply the recipe to the standard car and you'd receive quite a thing, but you could save yourself some work and start with a Performance Edition or the confusingly named Edition Edition & skip the lighter wheels & suspension. I don't feel this one would need more power or sound either, just the all important rear seat delete.
Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
Renault has form here with the hardcore hot-hatch with such hits as the Megane R26.R, Clio 182 Cup, Megane Trophy & Trophy Rs, Clio Williams and so on; but it looks like the MK4 Clio missed that boat. There was brief hope when the Clio RS16 Concept was shown, but alas it was not meant to be. Plus with a shaky start in life the MK4 Clio RS didn't get the love it rightfully deserved in its later life. This is a car I'm quite fond of, and I feel if Renault did release a hardcore variant perhaps more love would have been found for all of the MK4s in general. Still, we can make one of our own. The standard applies, again I don't feel more power would necessarily improve this one, same with the suspension, but lighter wheels for less unsprung mass, rear seat removal and if possible to keep form with its family, thinner glass as well. Sticker tires and a re-tuned diff and trans wouldn't hurt either.
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4T (Non-Hybrid)
Nicely equipped already (and actually sounds good with an exhaust) the 1.4T Swift Sport didn't get the same love as the earlier, purer 1.6 N/A variant, but having driven both the later car is vastly superior in my mind despite the hefty price tag (relatively). This would need more than the some of the other cars mentioned, but could be made to be a real B-road danger. Fancy suspension, bigger brakes, light weight wheels, rear seat delete, louder exhaust, a tune and some other breathing mods on the engine to get closer to 180bhp and frankly, I want one.
Other notable mentions
The list of cars that would make good candidates for this style of tuning is very long, but a few more to consider (without going into more detail like I have above) would be:
Audi S1, Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, Honda Civic Type R FN2, Ford Focus RS MK2, VW Up GTI, Ford Fiesta ST MK6 & Volvo C30 T5.