The sports range of the Volkswagen Golf MK8 currently includes several different grades of performance based on the same architecture. The GTE, GTI, and GTD are the entry-level hot hatches powered by electrified, petrol, and diesel powertrains, respectively. Above that, the Clubsport and R versions unleash the full potential of the current generation Golf in production form. But how big is the difference in performance between these trim levels?

In August this year, we saw the GTI and GTD race the Clubsport with the latter taking a comfortable win over its lesser brothers, despite the relatively minimal advantages in terms of performance. Today, we can compare the Clubsport directly against the range-topping Golf R, and again, there are clearly visible differences between the two.

Gallery: 2022 Volkswagen Golf R US Version

A new video by the Motorsport Magazine channel on YouTube brings us to the drag strip where a blue Golf R meets a silver Golf GTI Clubsport. The latter is from the 45 special edition which was unveiled as a nod to the original Golf GTI. It has a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet with 296 bhp (221 kilowatts). Power reaches the front wheels and the hatchback weighs 1,427 kilograms (3,146 pounds).

Against it, the Golf R has a more powerful version of the same four-cylinder unit with 320 bhp (235 kW), sending power to all four wheels. The improved traction comes at the cost of 116 kg (256 pounds) of additional weight compared to the FWD model. Better traction and more power - is that enough for the Golf R to prove it's the performance flagship of the Golf family?

We are sure you’ve read the headline and have a pretty good idea of which car is going to win this drag race. Nevertheless, the video at the top of this page is short enough not to waste much of your time, and it shows what’s the actual difference in performance between the two fast Golfs.