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Worthalook: Outrageous Golf races to 100km/h in a staggering 3.7 seconds.

Volkswagen creates Golf GTI like no other, with W12 engine and supercar acceleration

24 May 2007

THE name W&ouml rthersee does not have the same buzz surrounding it as Frankfurt, Geneva or Detroit. But Volkswagen has made it Worthalook – indeed, unforgettable – after unveiling the wildest, fastest Golf the world has ever seen.

Just as Volkswagen Group Australia was launching its remarkable new "twincharger" Golf GT on the Gold Coast last week, the European auto giant used an annual car festival for VW diehards in W&ouml rthersee, Austria, to unveil the GTI W12-650.

As its name suggests, the small three-door hatchback draws its power – a massive 650hp (477kW), produced at 6000rpm – from Volkswagen's 6.0-litre 48-valve W12 engine which, up until now, has been considered more at home in the likes of the Phaeton limousine and the Bentley Continental GT.

Sharing in the limelight, Volkswagen's sister brand Audi – which, incidentally, uses the W12 in its A8 – used W&ouml rthersee to unveil a Clubsport version of its TT sportscar.

Described as a one-off concept, but considered a precursor to more powerful and exciting models from Volkswagen, this incredible GTI has the top-shelf twin-turbocharged and intercooled version of the German marque's W12, which is mid-mounted (longitudinally) in this application and delivers no less than 750Nm at 4500rpm to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox with Tiptronic gate.

3 center imageThis is a long, long distance from either the current production (front-drive) GTI, which musters 147kW/280Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo four, or the AWD Golf R32 and its 184kW/320Nm 3.2-litre V6.

Perhaps more to the point are similarities with the mid-engine rear-drive Clio RenaultSport V6, a Tom Walkinshaw Racing-developed super-hatch that never went on sale Down Under – as once promised – but nonetheless wowed Australian motor show crowds back in 2001 with its Subaru WRX-beating power (166kW) and startling performance claims such as 0-100km/h in the low sixes.

Call it fanciful, but Volkswagen is audacious enough to reckon the W12 engine can catapult the GTI to 100km/h in a mere 3.7 seconds, sending it on to a maximum speed of 325km/h and into the annals as one of the world's fastest cars, period.

The chassis is taken from an unnamed "super sportscar", but to their credit the designers – under the watch of the new bloke with the scalpel, Klaus Bischoff – have hung on to details of the production GTI such as the headlamps, tail-lights, bonnet and doors.

"Despite the somewhat dramatic engineering changes, it was very clear that the GTI was to remain a classic GTI," Mr Bischoff said. "The design of the Golf is like a fingerprint. If it is erased, the entire character of the car is ruined. "That could not be allowed to happen under any circumstances." No doubt, the W12-650 version looks a hell of a lot meaner than the production version, which comes as a result of it being wider (at 1880mm), lower (at 1420mm in overall height), running on custom-built 19-inch alloy "Detroit" wheels and tyres (235 section at the front, 295 at the rear) and bearing some head-turning aerodynamic and air-cooling design features across the steel and carbon-fibre bodywork.

These include the massive cooling duct at the front end, air inlets on the side skirts, and reshaped rear windows that turn inward and create engine-cooling ducts between the windows and the rear pillars.

"Our greatest challenge was to provide the 6.0-litre mid-engine with sufficient air, without watering down the GTI's side profile," said Mr Bischoff.

"In addition, provisions had to be made for sufficient downforce at the rear axle on such a fast type of car, but for aesthetic reasons we did not want to put an enormous rear spoiler on the car.

"This GTI carries its wing internally. The roof is part of an enormous diffuser that supplies sufficient downforce to the rear axle. It consists of a carbon-fibre material and directs the air over and under the rear spoiler to achieve road grip, like in car racing," he said.

The cabin includes racecar bucket seats trimmed in leather Alcantara, a trio of circular gauges in the instrument cluster (reminiscent of the original GTI), a "flip-up" switch covers for stability control deactivation, and an integrated fire extinguisher in lieu of a glovebox.

To reduce weight, and to offer an interesting view of the internal workings of the door mechanisms, the door trim was also stripped.

Another Golf GTI was shown in W&ouml rthersee last week: a "Pirelli" limited edition with, as its title indicates, a unique Pirelli high-performance wheel-and-tyre package (incorporating the latest 18-inch 225/40 P-Zero rubber) and other features including an engine upgrade (to 169kW/300Nm) and partial-leather sports seats with an embedded tyre tread pattern.

European production begins in September but Australian deliveries are not anticipated due to engine cooling system regulations.

As for deliveries of the W12-650, the green light on a production version – in whatever form that might take – will be down to VW's new boss Martin Winterkorn, who now has the automotive world waiting in anticipation on his next move.

Read more:

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First look: Speedy TT goes clubbing

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