Volkswagen could be described with many different types of words and phrases given its long and storied past through WWII and the biggest automaker scandal of all time. However, when we think of VW, as we often do, we think of them as “essentially German”.
They have timeless and simple designs, unmatched engineering, and a strict set of principles that keep them on course for profit and customer satisfaction. Although in 2007, it all went out the window and across the street when they decided to unveil their very own Frankenstein: the Golf GTI W12-650.
So let’s take a closer look at this concept car and everything you need to know about it.
Designing the Golf W12
Volkswagen sponsors an annual automotive event known as “Wörthersee”, where more than 100,000 visitors come to share their passion for the German brand at Lake Wörthersee in Austria. And every year, VW’s engineering team come up with a special version or a unique Golf GTI to show off to the crowd at Wörthersee.
In 2007, VW set out to create one of the most fantastic GTI concepts to date by combining different mechanical elements from other VW group companies in just two months.
Car manufacturers past and present often use the municipal parts bin to build and finish cars at low cost, but this is done on the assumption that they will make money from it. In Volkswagen’s case, they weren’t planning on selling a single Golf GTI W12-650, meaning they had no pressure and absolutely nothing to lose.
The first objective was to give real power to the new Golf concept. Enter: Bentley W12. You now know where it got its name from. The Bentley W12 was the twin turbo engine used in the Bentley Continental GT, which has become a high performance coupe in recent times.
The only problem was the size of the W12 engine itself. The original 2007 Golf GTI contained a small 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder under the hood, which is three times the size of the large 6.0-liter W12 they intended to use.
In rebuttal to this setback, the team decided to keep the plan to use the W12 and fit it into the biggest part of the compact Golf: the middle. Thus, the first mid-engined Golf GTI built by VW was born.
With the engine seated behind the driver and passenger, there would be room for adequate safety and comfort for the occupants, but there were other challenges down the road. One of them being the 641 horsepower that the W12 was capable of producing.
In order to prevent the car from twisting under the accelerator, VW installed performance parts from other brands, including rear axles and brakes from a Lamborghini Gallardo, an automatic transmission from a Volkswagen Phaeton, brakes front of an Audi RS 4 and the rear subframe of an Audi R8.
We have no doubt that several VW engineers went off in anger after trying to make a working automobile with parts from three different brands, but nonetheless they were able to do so.
Volkswagen claims that the Golf GTI W12-650 could go from 0 to 60 in “less than four seconds” and keep accelerating until it reaches an incredibly fast speed of 201 mph. The numbers from 0 to 60 seem quite doable for a 641 hp Golf, but a top speed of 201 mph is insane. We have to find the person who tested this and give him a medal.
When you are going over 200 mph in a sedan, aerodynamics is also a key factor in not dying. The Golf GTI W12-650 has been lowered 2 inches at all four corners to accommodate high speeds and reduce the frontal area for drag. The rear window has also been redesigned for aerodynamic and packaging purposes.
The body gained 6.3 inches in width to accommodate the larger tires and the car’s offset balance. The wider area also allowed for larger front air ducts to power the 6.0-liter monster.
Now let’s take a step back. The Golf GTI W12-650 was a decade-defining concept car, much like Ford’s 2004 Cobra Concept or Dodge’s 2007 Demon Concept. The Achilles heel of the W12 turned out to be bends.
Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson filmed a short piece with the concept itself, which Volkswagen was kind enough to lend. However, Clarkson quickly realized that the Golf W12 refused to turn around and stay balanced. The car’s short wheelbase, high power output, and rear-wheel drive setup were the recipe for disaster in the form of sharp oversteer and backward corners.
But like a dog swallowing a chew toy, you can’t really blame the GOlf W12 because after all, you were the one who decided to give it the toy in the first place. Likewise, Volkswagen executives wanted a crazy GTI concept that outperformed all previous attempts, and they gave a Golf a 641bhp engine.
NEXT: This Is The 2022 Golf GTI’s Best Feature
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