Volkswagen’s GTI has been one of the world’s benchmark hot hatches since its introduction in 1976. Now the folks in Wolfsburg are showing an even hotter hatch, the Design Vision GTI cocncept, developed for the Wörthersee festival in Reifnitz, Austria.
The Design Vision GTI boasts a 503-horsepower engine capable of propelling the car to a top speed of 186 miles per hour. It’s not quite as wild as the 2007 GTI W12, which had a twin-turbocharged, 641-horsepower 12-cylinder engine from the Volkswagen Phaeton mounted amidship and could go from zero to sixty in 3.7 seconds on its way to an estimated 202 mph, but the newer version is slightly more refined.
Based on the current, seventh generation GTI, the Design Vision GTI was created under the leadership of Klaus Bischoff, VW’s design chief. Bischof and his team extended the front fenders and the C-pillars and sills outward, making them separate body elements. This allowed space for substantially wider front and rear tracks and for the specially developed 20-inch wheels (with 235 tires in the front and 275s at the rear).
Instead of the basic GTI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four, the Design Vision GTI gets a twin-turbo, direct-injected 3.0-liter TSI V6 making 503 hp at 6500 rpm. The larger engine produces a maximum of 433 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm and can supply 369 lb-ft at 2000 rpm. The engine is mated to a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission to power a standard all-wheel-drive system. And power it does: 0-60 comes in 3.9 seconds, just 0.2 seconds slower than the earlier V12. To suit the handling to the environment, the Design Vision GTI has three drive modes: “Street,” “Sport” and “Track.”
The Design Vision GTI gets its stopping power from carbon-ceramic disc brakes: 15-inchers on the front; 14-inches in diameter at the rear. To dissipate the hot gases generated during braking, the wheels feature integrated ventilating blades.
Even with the body mods the Design Vision GTI is unmistakably a Volkswagen. That’s part of the plan, according to Klaus Bischoff. “Our claim to be a global player is enhanced with our universal design language. A design that immediately communicates the brand’s identity is central for all models that carry the VW logo, with elements that allow each model to be recognized as a true Volkswagen by its distinctive design.”
“The design team’s brief was to give a spectacular glance into the future of the GTI,” added Bischoff. Marc Lichte, Andreas Mindt, and Philipp Römers, the same team who developed the latest Golf and the new GTI, also worked on development of the Design Vision GTI.
The radical Design Vision GTI is shorter, wider, and lower than a regular GTI. It’s 0.6 inches shorter at 167.4 inches, 2.2 inches lower, at 54.5 inches, and it’s 2.8 inches wider (73.6 inches) that the model in dealer showrooms. As mentioned above, the track has been widened: The rear track has increased to 62.2 inches, compared to 59.7 inches for the production car; the front track is 62.8 inches, up from the regular GTI’s 60.6 inches.
The Golf’s C-pillar is drawn outward, becoming a separate design element, while the body itself tapers strongly toward the rear. The front end is sculptured with the radiator grille, bottom air inlet, and the brake cooling vents combining with the headlights and the whole framed by the front fenders and the hood.
The GTI’s trademark red line divides the headlights of the Design Vision GTI horizontally. The actual lighting elements are set back, giving the “eyes” depth—an innovative variation of the “evil eye” VW says is popular with customizers.
Tomasz Bachorski, in charge of Volkswagen Interior Design, gave his team some simple guidelines: “Pure GTI. Concentrate on the truly essential. But with style.”
Boris Grell, Jan Haacke, and Guillermo Mignot, the designers of the GTI concept’s interior, used a radical version of “reduced design.” This means as few controls as possible so they can be operated intuitively even during hard driving.
The designers have integrated a number of controls into the upper section of the center console: the switches and rugged turn knobs for climate control, the hazard light switch, and the activation for the on-board camera. An electrical kill switch, a push-button for the fire extinguisher and the ESP deactivation are housed underneath.
The shapes of the dashboard and the center console correspond to the GTI’s, but are even more driver oriented, with tauter surfaces and harder edges. The race-car ambiance is enhanced by the partial use of carbon fiber, which is combined with “Anthracite” and “Titan Black” Alcantara as well as “Black” and “Flash Red” Nappa leather. One pleasing detail on the doors is a red loop that forms the handle, just like a Porsche Cup car. True to its competition focus, the standard GTI’s rear seats are gone, replaced by an X-shaped crossmember that strengthens body stiffness.
As is true of so many highly desirable automotive concepts, the Design Vision GTI is not destined for production. The best for which we can hope is that Volkswagen will share it with a larger audience than the crowd in Reifnitz.