This concept, possibly the wildest Golf to ever turn a wheel, caught everybody by surprise. Even VW insiders, who knew it was under construction, didn't expect it to be unveiled at the giant Wrthersee event in Austria. It's like VWoA unveiling R GTI at Waterfest. Hang on, that's not a terrible idea...
Rumored to have cost an incredible two million euros ($2.7 million at current exchange rates), it's significantly more than VWoA spent on its five cars at both SEMA '05 and '06.
The Wrthersee unveiling was explained in VW's official blurb as "a tribute to our GTI friends, the car fans who made the GTI a legend. It's a concept that was made for them." Consequently, it will also be seen at this summer's GTI International in the UK (but no word about Waterfest as we went to press).
So what's hidden under that awesome body? Mounted behind the driver's seat is a six liter W12 motor fitted with twin-turbos, and claims to develop 650PS at 6000rpm (641hp) and 550 lb/ft at 4500rpm.
With so much power, 0-60mph reportedly clocks in at 3.7sec and is said to reach 202mph. Our insiders doubted whether the claims were true, but it's still a mouth-watering prospect.
Klaus Bischoff, director of VW Design, explained, "Our greatest challenge was to provide the engine with sufficient air without watering down the GTI's profile." His team's solution was ingenious. They sloped the rear windows to create a duct between the glass and C-pillar. They also built large vents into the deep skirts and situated huge ducts in the front spoiler, retaining the GTI's distinctive honeycomb mesh.
To maintain the GTI silhouette, the designers used stock headlamps, hood, doors and tail lights. Although the roof also looks stock, it "carries its wing internally," said Bischoff. "The carbon roof is part of diffuser to supply downforce to the rear axle. It directs air over and under the rear spoiler."
The rear of the car is over 3" wider than stock to accommodate both the mid-engine configuration, as well as to provide more grip to the rear tires.
The 295/30-19 rear tires are mounted on custom-made, dished versions of the GTI's stock "Detroit" wheel. The front tires are a narrower 235/35.
The interior includes specially-designed sports seats wrapped in alcantara, while the doors have clear plastic covers in an attempt to save weight, leaving the internals exposed.
The dash features three pod-mounted gauges and a number of racecar-style toggle switches. There's also a fire extinguisher in place of the glovebox.
The climate controls have been stripped to the bare minimum and the air vents have mesh covers. There's also a new console for the DSG gear selector, finished to match the retrimmed steering wheel.
With a 340km/h speedo, the GTI W12 650 was built for both speed and spectacle. As such, it's the most spectacular vehicle to emerge from Wolfsburg's studio since the Veyron.
Don't expect much, if anything, from this concept to transfer to the GTI you buy. Its purpose is to showcase VW's technology and prove there's a strong pulse in the enthusiast hearts at Wolfsburg. And for that, we're extremely grateful.