Golfs Going Mental: The Wildest Golf Concepts by Volkswagen

Golfs Going Mental: The Wildest Golf Concepts by Volkswagen

A small family hatchback becomes a speed demon.

We love Volkswagen Golf, it’s one of the best selling cars ever made, which is not much of a surprise, since it’s a small family hatchback with plenty of space and trim options. Whether you’d go for the 5-door hatchback with a diesel, go sports with the GTI, or make merry with the Golf R version on a racetrack, the Golf is always a viable option for every circumstance, not to mention its almost 50 year old heritage, which demonstrates how the model always outdid itself with each generation. However, some people working in Volkswagen thought to themselves that the sporty versions of the Golf, like GTI or R, simply wasn’t enough. Those bright minds saw more potential in it and decided that it could be an ultimate speed weapon, and settled on converting this little family car to a big, menacing monster. Let’s take a look at Volkswagen’s savage Golf concepts that makes a lot of sense, by making no sense at all.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI W12-650

Big, wide and menacing, this GTI features a W12 engine producing 650 HP.

If we had to illustrate the secretly mad side of the precise, punctual germans, the Golf GTI W12-650 would be the perfect example to give. Unveiled in 2007, this concept car was the living and breathing proof that the Golf could be more than a family car for a summer trip. To make this wild mid-engined concept car, Volkswagen rummaged through their brands to collect parts from other models to create their best Frankenstein so far. The GTI W12-650 features a 6.0L W12 bi-turbo engine from a Bentley Continental GT mated to a VW DSG transmission, front brakes from an Audi RS4, rear brakes and axle from a Lamborghini Gallardo and most of the bits from the standard Golf GTI. It was a collection of bits and pieces from Volkswagen’s all-time greats, and the car was made in just 8 weeks and it was an actually working concept car unlike many other concepts that are static props.

Since it was such a rushed project, most of the parts of the car was not connected, like the AC, flappy paddle shifters and the buttons on the dashboard, but the car itself ran, albeit it handled like a terrified tiger. To save up space for the massive W12 engine, Volkswagen removed the rear seats and made it mid-engined, but hey, who needs back seats, right? Those are for base model people. The c-pillar of the car was used as a cooler for the massive engine, and features big air ducts on the sides and the rear of the car. To attempt to make the car more aerodynamic, it was fitted with a massively wide body kit which makes it sit 70mm lower and 160mm wider. The car weighs 1465 kg (3229 lbs) but it surely doesn’t stop it from going like sting. It was also fitted with an even bigger version of Golf GTI rims which certainly completes the monstrous look. Don’t think for a second that it’s all for show, however, as the big W12 produces 640 HP @6000 RPM and 750nm @4500 RPM, humongous numbers for a Golf, and this engine allows it to go from 0 to 60 in just 3.7 seconds to a top speed of 325 km/h (201 mph).

Most of the car is made out of carbon fiber to offset the weight loss from the massive engine which definitely makes the Golf W12 look menacing combined with its white paintjob. To top it all, it features a stripped interior which has a fire extinguisher in the place of the glove box, and quad exhausts that further enhance the terrorizing noise of the W12 engine. You’d definitely need the fire extinguisher, though. With the W12-650, Volkswagen demonstrated what they can do when they let their hair down, and unleash their wild side hidden underneath all those sensible family cars filled with the dread of efficiency. But hey, it wouldn’t hurt to throw efficiency away from time to time, right?

Volkswagen Golf Design Vision GTI Concept

A great successor to the monstrous W12-650.

Unveiled in 2013 at the Worthersee Festival in Austria, the Vision GTI is another reminder that Volkswagen can keep the lunacy going, evident by its sinister grin. The Vision GTI concept car was also a working example like the W12-650 and it’s based on the 7th generation Golf GTI, but unlike the W12-650 which was made with the bits of many other cars owned by Volkswagen, parts for the Vision GTI were made from the ground up. The concept car might sound a little toned down compared to its predecessor as it’s powered by a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine, but the toasty engine produces 503 HP @6500 RPM and 560nm @4000 RPM, which allows it to accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds to a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), so it’s certainly not a lesser version of the mighty W12 that came before it. It utilizes Volkswagen’s quick DSG gearbox system to handle the huge power output. However, its weight figures were never published, but a quick guess tells us that it’s most likely around 1200-1300kg considering the figures of the standard Golf GTI.

Like its dad, the Vision GTI features a big bodykit for better cooling and aerodynamics and it’s also equipped with a 20 inch, more menacing version of the big signature Golf GTI rims as well. The interior is a stark contrast to the wild exterior as it focuses on only the fundamentals, you just have a gear lever, a speedometer and a steering wheel, and again, the fire extinguisher in the back, the essentials on a track day. The Vision GTI manages to be much better at handling than the W12-650 thanks to its new four-wheel drive system which was later used for the production sports Golf, the Golf R. Like its predecessor, the Vision GTI flips your family off by removing its back seats and replacing it with an X-shaped crossmember to increase the rigidity of the car. The Vision GTI was a highly experimental concept that heavily inspired the GTI Roadster Vision Gran Turismo concept that was made for the video games Gran Turismo 6 and Sport. The Vision GTI was another wild example of a Golf when its engineers unwind and create a car that’s based on their dreams, rather than daily needs.

Volkswagen Golf R400 Concept

Compared to the W12-650 and Vision GTI that came before it, the powerful R400 is the closest to an actual production model. Heavily based on the 2014 Golf R, the R400 is powered by the same engine as the Golf R, a 2.0L 4 cylinder turbocharged engine, but compared to the production model, the R400 produces 394 HP @7200 RPM and 450 nm @6000 RPM, which is a hefty upgrade from the standard version. Even though it is less powerful than its predecessors, the R400 is still a serious track weapon as it can do 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds to a top speed of 280 km/h (173 mph). The power is kept in check with its permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive system and with a 6-speed DSG gearbox. Like its predecessors, the R400 is 20mm lower than the standard Golf R and features low-profile tires to further increase handling. It also features a wider and more aggressive bodykit to help the car stay on the road at all times, not to mention its savage looks. The car is also heavily adorned with carbon fiber for weight reduction, just like its predecessors. Despite the weight reduction program, the R400 features back seats unlike the other concepts, retaining the Golf practicality with much more power to offer.

The R400 Concept features a fully functional Golf R interior, albeit with the yellow R400 lining, which is also incorporated into the grille, headlights and the brake calipers of the car, which makes the concept stand out from other Golf models with the distinct silver paintjob. It also utilizes a meaner rear bumper with big twin exhausts on the middle. Unlike the W12-650 and the Vision GTI, the R400 features a small lip spoiler for more downforce. Despite the all-wheel drive system, the car weighs just 1420 kg (3130 lbs) which is still impressive for such a complicated hot hatch. The R400 is a more usable, less far-fetched vision of a spicier Golf, but Volkswagen never planned on producing it. However, the concept car was an important asset for the Volkswagen engineers, as the Golf R versions that came after it used an improved version of the all-wheel drive system that’s first used in the R400. The R400 then manages to continue the Golf went mad route that the W12-650 started without any drawbacks, minus the huge engine in the back eating all the seats. So it’s safe to say that the R400 is the most family friendly out of all three cars.

Volkswagen illustrated their mad side with the W12-650, the Vision GTI and R400 concept cars, and showed us how a simple family hatchback like a Golf can be made a track warrior when given chance, and parts of course. We certainly hope that the old madness that started with the W12 Golf would continue in the near future, albeit with hybrid powertrains, since the old-school engines are being killed off slowly. Whether with next-generation technology or with old-school mechanic power, we certainly need to see another special edition mad looking Golf again, to show that the pure power machines will never die.