Last year was a notable one for automotive enthusiasts looking to get into an affordable but fun to drive hot hatchback. At the Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai tossed its hat into the ring with the new Veloster N that captured our attention. Volkswagen was at the show, but the German automaker had a more serious hat on.
At Detroit, VW unveiled the new 2019 Jetta and a sportier Passat GT, but there wasn’t anything fun on display. Sure, Volkswagen had unveiled the facelifted Golf family at last year’s New York Auto Show, but there wasn’t anything exciting for the family. No massive spoiler for the GTI. No Drift Mode for the Golf R. It was all serious stuff, which got us thinking about a time when VW didn’t take things so seriously with the Golf.
Back in 2007, when the Mazdaspeed 3 was one of the craziest hatchbacks you could purchase, Volkswagen created, what is still to this day, one of the most insane hot hatches ever conceived.
Called the Golf GTI W12-650, the one-off concept was built off of a MK5 GTI. It featured the 6.0-liter W12 engine from a Bentley Continental GT that was longitudinally mounted into the middle of hatchback. The monstrous power plant was good for 650 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque – which were, and still are, supercar figures. As a result, it could sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 202 mph (325 km/h).
The Golf GTI W12-650 also looked the part, as it was five inches winder and sat three inches lower to the ground than a regular Golf GTI. With power going to the rear wheels, which, with the exception of BMW, is practically unheard of for hatchbacks, the concept wore massive 295-mm tires at the back and 235-mm rubber at the front.
There are so many other little details that make the GTI W12-650 concept one of our favorite machines to wear the VW badge like its heavily reworked chassis, enormous air intake at the front, reshaped rear windows and futuristic rear bumper.
While we never expected Volkswagen to put the concept onto the road, Autoweek reports that the German brand’s new boss, Martin Winterkorn, wanted it to act as a sign of his intention to transform the automaker’s conservative image.
Now that VW is looking to reinvent itself after its dieselgate scandal and moving towards electric vehicles, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a car or a concept like the Golf GTI W12-650 ever again.
That’s a shame, because a hot hatch with the performance of a supercar not only sounds amazing, but it would give enthusiasts something to be excited about. Cars like the Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan don’t really do that, do they?