First Drives

25 November 2013

First drive: 500bhp Golf GTI concept

TG drives VW's Worthersee show star, complete with a twin-turbo V6 and meltable plastic body

Vijay Pattni
Car image

What’s THAT?

This is the Volkswagen Design Vision GTI concept; a one-off show car built to a) delight the jolly, VW enthusiasts at this year’s Worthersee VW event, b) showcase the future of the Golf GTI, and c) be a complete and utter window-licking loon. Suffice to say, it scores big on all counts.

So the future of the Volkswagen Golf is a 500bhp widebodied supercar killer?

One can only hope. More realistically, this is a design study reflecting some of VW’s greatest hits, and a caricatured preview of the evolution of the Golf’s design language. So for example, the sharp line you see running right around the car underneath the door handles was taken straight from the MkI Golf, while the rear three-quarter section was lifted from the Golf Mk 4.

Cheery German design chief Andreas Mindt told how this particular element was a favourite. “It’s a really strong design theme in the Mk 4. When we play with the elements we had in our history, you get a recognisable car; an iconic car that you recognise from 200 metres away. That’s super important for us because our competitors don’t have that.”

As for the future, the GTI concept’s front wheels have been moved forward for shorter overhangs, with the bonnet ‘floating’ clear of the A-pillar either, to make it look more dynamic. The cabin seems entire cabin sits more on the rear wheels than the front, as it did in the past. Almost like it’s hunched backwards. “The bonnet is stretched and the whole car is more horizontal, this is what we want,” says Andreas.

How did they make it?

The whole thing was knocked together in less than six months time. There’s a steel structure framing the body shape, while the actual body is made from plastic.  

The wheels have been pushed further up into the body so everything is shorter. While it sits on the regular MQB platform as the new Golf, it’s 0.6 inches shorter than a Mk 7 GTI, 2.8 inches wider and 2.2 inches lower for more schportiness.

The cabin gets sports seats, plus a minimalist, non-sound-deadened plastic sheathed in Alcantara for extra race points. “This is matt Alcantara,” Andreas said. “You have that in a lot of race cars. It’s a great material because you have no reflection of the dash in the windscreen. I think it was on the Porsche 917 the first time.”

Check out that face too. The blades and the bottom are connected to the front lights to form one giant mouthpiece, almost sticking out because “it looks like the power of the engine is pushing the element forwards”.

Ah yes, the engine. You may need to sit down for this one.

I’m sitting.

It’s a twin-turbocharged VR6 TSI engine producing 503bhp and 560Nm of torque, with a DSG dual-clutch gearbox driving all four wheels. Let that sink in for a moment. 503bhp. Four-wheel-drive. Plastic body.


Yes. The GTO concept will do 0-100kph in 3.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 300kph. Not just fast for a Golf, but fast full stop. There are carbon ceramic brakes measuring 15in in diameter up front, 14in at the back. There are 20in wheels. There are dual exhausts. There is much noise.

What’s it like to drive?

Erm, quick. Though, as a caveat, in that we were somewhat restricted in our lairiness, what with this being a priceless, one-off show car made of plastic and sporting more power than a Mercedes C63 AMG.

We were under strict rules not to use full throttle, but after some heavy pleading, full throttle was briefly applied, and oh, our, God. The GTI just explodes in a hail of noise and more noise. The off-throttle pops fire out like a shotgun producing enough heat to start melting the rear bumper by the exhaust exits. Oops. The turbo whoosh sounded like a squirrel is being swallowed whole, and the whole experience feels like an industrial, amplified touring car.

There’s no lag, just grip and go, point and melt, shock and awe. Considering it’s lowered, with stiffer springs and dampers, the GTI concept actually rides quite comfortable too. The steering is too light and assisted for something so massively interested in tearing your face off, but really, you just want a straight piece of road and lots of space, because it’s all about the noise. Just superb.

Can I buy one?

No. It’s a one-off. But when we put it to Andreas that we’d love to see this in a limited production, he smiled and said: ‘Remember the Golf and Corrado VR6? We’d love to see those again.’ Then we said: ‘Why not build a proper, non-melty version, stick some graphics on it and take it to the Nürburgring 24hr race?’ And he said: ‘You know, I never thought about that. Why not?’

If it happens, you’re welcome, world.

Tags: volkswagen, golf, golf gti

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