UPDATE, 28 February 2021: The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 has made its official debut overnight, confirming the 45th anniversary model will be based on the hi-po Clubsport, and will eschew 'Edition' from its name.
Additions over the 'standard' Clubsport include a black roof, black rear spoiler (reportedly a tribute to the black roof spoiler fitted by the original GTI), 19-inch 'Scottsdale' black alloy wheels with a Tornado Red pinstripe, '45' side decals, a '45' badge on the tailgate, and the Race package, which includes a speed limiter delete and a sports exhaust system.
There's also a '45' badge features on the bottom spoke of the steering wheel, GTI-badged 'premium' sports seats and matrix LED headlights – the lattermost typically limited to the options list.
As expected, the Clubsport's powertrain carries over to the 45, employing a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine sending 221kW and 400Nm to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Order books for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 open on 1 March, with prices in Germany to start from €47,790 (AU$75,000) – around €5000 more than a regular GTI Clubsport optioned with 19-inch wheels and matrix LED headlights.
Our original story covering Thursday's leaked images continues below, including word on whether the Clubsport 45 will make it to Australia.
25 February 2021: Photos of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 45 have appeared online ahead of the special-edition hot hatch's expected European launch in the coming months.
Images posted to Spanish enthusiast forum Cochespias show the exterior of the upcoming hot hatch – the existence of which has yet to be officially confirmed by Volkswagen – with the limited-run model created to celebrate 45 years since the original Golf GTI launched in 1976.
The upgrades to the Europe-only GTI Clubsport (bottom) – on which the Edition 45 is based – are largely cosmetic, comprising a '45' hexagonal-patterned decal along the lower sections of the doors, a black rear spoiler, and a new set of 19-inch alloy wheels with red accent outlines.
While no images of the interior have surfaced, it's likely changes will be limited to unique instrument and infotainment screen displays, and 'Edition 45' badging.
The limited-edition Mk8 GTI will follow in the wheel tracks of earlier anniversary special-edition Golf GTI models, including the Mk4 GTI 25th Anniversary, Mk5 GTI Edition 30, Mk6 GTI Edition 35 and the Mk7 GTI Clubsport Edition 40 – the latter sold as the GTI 40 Years in Australia, due to a trademark clash with HSV's Clubsport sports sedan range.
While Mk4, Mk5 and Mk6 anniversary models have offered a boost in power and torque over their standard counterparts, the Mk7 version retained the 'standard', European-market Clubsport's 195-213kW engine tune, given it was already up to 44kW more potent than regular GTI and GTI Performance models.
It's likely the Mk8 Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 45 will follow suit, offering the same 221kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, seven-speed DSG auto and front-wheel-drive configuration as the 'base' Clubsport.
The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 45 is expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Above and bottom: The standard Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport.
A local launch for the limited edition hot hatch in its European guise appears unlikely, given most special edition Golf GTI models sold in Australia are configured specifically for our market, with different engine and transmission combinations, equipment levels, or badging.
At the time of the 'standard' Clubsport's unveiling in October 2020, a Volkswagen Australia spokesperson told CarAdvice "special editions are absolutely part of [its] thoughts for the Mk8 Golf performance range" – not ruling out the arrival of a similar 45th anniversary model unique to Australia later down the road.