2000s / German / Volkswagen

ZeitHaus treasures: Volkswagen Golf W12-650 concept

The 2007 Golf GTI W12-650 concept remains the fastest and most powerful Golf ever built by Volkswagen. To create it, engineers sent the rear bench back to the parts bin and replaced it with a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine rated at 650 horsepower (hence its name) and 553 pound-feet of torque. The 12-cylinder was developed for use in high-end cars like the Audi A8 and the Bentley Continental GT.

The 12-cylinder sent the W12-650 from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds, and on to an Autobahn-worthy top speed of 201 mph (325 km/h). It was bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission that spun the rear wheels. Needless to say, this setup completely changed the GTI’s driving dynamics.

The W12-650 was to the regular GTI what the Renault Clio V6 was to the standard Clio econobox. It was lighter, lower, and much wider than the regular-production model it borrowed its name and a handful of body panels from. And, unsurprisingly, it was remarkably well received by the press and by enthusiasts. Many believed Volkswagen management would approve it for a limited production run; crazier concepts have been brought to life before, after all. It ultimately remained a one-off model.

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