At one time, Volkswagen took the W-12 out of a Bentley Continental GT and crammed it into the cabin of a fifth-gen Golf GTI.by Robert Moore, on LISTEN 05:04
The Volkswagen Golf has been a mainstay in VW’s lineup since the Mk1 was introduced way back in 1974. Over nearly 50 years of history the Golf hasn’t changed a lot. Sure the body has changed, and the technology has be drastically improved as you’d expect, but it’s followed the same general recipe over all these years – it’s a compact hatchback (and wagon) that can be both economical and fun, the latter of which being true if you find yourself behind the wheel of a Golf GTi or Golf R. No Golf that VW has sold to the public even comes close to the level of cool that’s exuded by the car you see here: a mid-engined Golf GTI with the heart of a Bentley Continental GT. You want the definition of hot hatch? Well, this is it.
A V-12 Golf GTI – Pushing The Limits of Reality
The Volkswagen Golf is better than it’s ever been. The Mk8 generation brought with it tons of new technology and new levels of performance. The 2021 Golf R, for example, boasts 315 horsepower and can sprint to the 60-mph benchmark in four seconds. The Golf GTi Clubsport, however, kind of stole its thunder with a lower price tag and 296 horsepower – the limit that you’ll find in a Golf wearing the GTI badge and enough to make the standard GTI look like a girl’s car. In another time, however, Volkswagen wanted to steal the 2007 Worthersee GTI Festival, and it didn’t hold back one bit. It all started with a MK5 Golf GTI that, and when VW engineers were done, it became the most epic golf the world has ever seen.
Volkswagen had a desire to steal Worthersee, and it wanted to do so by blending together elements from across the entire VW group.
The Mk5 GTI, which became known as the “Golf GTI W12-650,” was essentially stripped down, with the car’s doors, hood, and light being among the few things to remain. As you can see from the images, this concept was wider than usual – wider by 6.5 inches to be exact – and your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, as those really are 12-inch wide tires in the rear. The front and rear fascias were updated and those air intakes on the side were functional.
In the end, engineers, had widened the body, altered the rear side glass, expanded the air intake section in the front, and completely reworked the chassis underneath, but this is also where it gets interesting, because this little GTi was holding the W-12 heart from none other than a Bentley Continental GT.
That’s right – Volkswagen crammed a Bentley W-12 into a tiny Golf GTI.
Well, by cram, we mean that engineers completely hollowed out the interior behind the front seats and mounted that Bentley W-12 as close to the centerline of the car as possible. It basically sat right behind the driver’s seat and ahead of the rear axle. While this really makes this concept stand out, it was necessary as there was no way for a Bentley W-12 to fit under the Golf’s hood, and it’s a good thing as a mid-engined Golf is a lot more interesting. Other unique engineering included the rear axle and rear brakes from a Lamborghini Gallardo, the front brakes from an Audi RS4, and – believe it or not – the transmission from aVolkswagen Phaeton.
Even better yet, the Golf GTI W12-650 was completely functional.
The interior featured a lot of racecar DNA, too. It was outfitted in black Alcanatra leather, void of door liners, and even featured a set of transparent switches on the center stack to control central functions and a fire extinguisher in the glove box. If you sat in the driver’s seat and fired her up, you’d hear the roar of 641 horsepower and the spooling of twin turbos. That’s more than double that of today’s Golf R at 315 ponies, and the same figure that’s offered by the Lamborghini Urus today! Power was sent to the rear wheels and, while it wasn’t exactly the easier to handle, Volkswagen says “it was certainly fun to drive.” We don’t doubt that one bit.
Now that you know about the car, we have to discuss how it performed on the track, and it all starts with the sprint to 60 mph happening in “less than four seconds.” This is impressive because the stock Mk5 GTI made that sprint in six seconds flat back in 2007 when Car & Driver put it to the test. In 2004, the same outlet reported that the Mk5 Golf R was good for a six-second sprint to 60 mph, although other outlets quote 5.8 seconds. Either way, the GTI W12-650 was much faster than the best VW offered to the public at the time, and is as the current Golf R does the 60-mph sprint in four seconds. Finally, according to Volkswagen, the GTI W12-650 was able to hit a top track speed of 201 mph, making it the fastest Golf ever created, and it did it with the heavy W-12 from a Bentley of all things.
|Power||641 HP @ 6,000 RPM|
|Torque||553 LB-FT @ 4,500 RPM|
|0 to 60 mph||<4.0 seconds|
|Top Speed||201 mph|