Throwback Thursday: the time Volkswagen stuffed a 650-hp W12 into a GTI

Since 1982, thousands of Golf GTI fanatics have been gathering annually in the small Austrian town of Wörthersee. In 2007, Volkswagen brought a special surprise for this passionate group of enthusiasts: the Golf GTI W12-650 showcar. Insanely powerful, insanely wide, and insanely fast, it was the ultimate expression of the GTI at the time.

While many of the styling cues are familiar, the GTI W12-650’s proportions and detailing come directly from the track. And given the performance on tap, that wasn’t an illusion: its twin-turbocharged, 6.0-litre engine was mounted longitudinally, and placed directly behind the driver and the front passenger. A six-speed automatic transmission transferred its power to the rear axle, catapulting it to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 325 km/h.

At 1.88 m wide (the “standard” GTI measuring 1.76 m), the chassis components of the GTI W12-650 were adapted from super sports cars, with the rear tires measuring 295 mm wide and carrying specially-engineered tires. Innovative body construction with a carbon-fibre roof also negated the need for a roof wing. The roof is, in fact, part of an enormous diffuser.
Check out this great video from Top Gear, which tells you more about the car than we ever could.