When VW Had A Sense Of Humor: The Mighty Golf GTI W12-650

Last year was a notable one for automotive enthusiasts looking to get into an affordable but fun to drive hot hatchback. At the Detroit Auto Show, Hyundai tossed its hat into the ring with the new Veloster N that captured our attention. Volkswagen was at the show, but the German automaker had a more serious hat on.

At Detroit, VW unveiled the new 2019 Jetta and a sportier Passat GT, but there wasn’t anything fun on display. Sure, Volkswagen had unveiled the facelifted Golf family at last year’s New York Auto Show, but there wasn’t anything exciting for the family. No massive spoiler for the GTI. No Drift Mode for the Golf R. It was all serious stuff, which got us thinking about a time when VW didn’t take things so seriously with the Golf.

Back in 2007, when the Mazdaspeed 3 was one of the craziest hatchbacks you could purchase, Volkswagen created, what is still to this day, one of the most insane hot hatches ever conceived.

Called the Golf GTI W12-650, the one-off concept was built off of a MK5 GTI. It featured the 6.0-liter W12 engine from a Bentley Continental GT that was longitudinally mounted into the middle of hatchback. The monstrous power plant was good for 650 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque – which were, and still are, supercar figures. As a result, it could sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 202 mph (325 km/h).

The Golf GTI W12-650 also looked the part, as it was five inches winder and sat three inches lower to the ground than a regular Golf GTI. With power going to the rear wheels, which, with the exception of BMW, is practically unheard of for hatchbacks, the concept wore massive 295-mm tires at the back and 235-mm rubber at the front.

There are so many other little details that make the GTI W12-650 concept one of our favorite machines to wear the VW badge like its heavily reworked chassis, enormous air intake at the front, reshaped rear windows and futuristic rear bumper.

While we never expected Volkswagen to put the concept onto the road, Autoweek reports that the German brand’s new boss, Martin Winterkorn, wanted it to act as a sign of his intention to transform the automaker’s conservative image.

Now that VW is looking to reinvent itself after its dieselgate scandal and moving towards electric vehicles, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a car or a concept like the Golf GTI W12-650 ever again.

That’s a shame, because a hot hatch with the performance of a supercar not only sounds amazing, but it would give enthusiasts something to be excited about. Cars like the Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan don’t really do that, do they?


    For some reason, I also miss the Nardo W12, Passat W8 4motion, Toureg R50, Phaeton W12, R8 TDI Concept, Audi S8 V10, and Q7 V12 TDI. I have no idea why either. Maybe it’s what was under the hood that tickled my fancy. Also, I really wanted VW to put the Golf R400 concept into production.

    • gor134

      I agree. I miss the days of W8, V10, V/W12. Felt like VAG had created it’s own separate personality with these cars. I really wanted the R8 TDI/ Le Mans Concept to enter production because of how beautiful it looked. I also don’t understand why the Nardo W12 got cancelled since it was so far into development already.

      • Kaisuke971

        I’m pretty sure VW simply chose to build the Bugatti Veyron instead of the Nardo

      • They simply afraid no one would but the R8 TDI, And in some way their guess is correct when no one bought R8 e-tron.

    • TheHake

      The Passat W8 was an awesome car! They have quite a cult following in Europe.

    • The R400 is a miss opportunity, the car development is finished and they literally just waiting to get launch.

  • Bash

    That was a not finished business! Wish they done it properly.

  • kachuks

    Those wheels still look great today.

    That’s a lot of motor for only 3.7 sec. Imagine a modern day dct or even automatic mated to it.

  • SteersUright

    Im still waiting for any VW “R” vehicle to live up to the badge. They’re fun, overpriced, and too toned down. No fender flares, cornering good but not glued to the road, and decent acceleration but even the Golf R is more “very-warm” hatch than hot-hatch. Would love to see an extreme Golf R from VW with a properly crazy body, sticky tired, and crazy levels of performance to match. They own Porsche, Bentley, Lambo, and Audi RS for goodness sake. They have they best parts in the bin from which to choose!

    • Matt

      Not sure how you come to the conclusion that the Golf R is isn’t a hot-hatch. With it’s performance it’s really more of a hyper-hatch.

    • Vassilis

      It’s all a matter of expectations but I’m not sure what exactly would be your ideal Golf R. I mean, more specifically. They definitely could look wilder but in terms of pricing, it’s a significantly cheaper (and more fun) Audi S3. It does 0-62 in 4.5 – 5.0 secs depending on the gearbox which is a lot more than decent, it corners very, very fast and if you put a set of Cup 2s or something it would be pretty much glued to the road. You can’t expect VW to make an RS3 competitor or an even better car. If you want something quicker and better pay the premium 😉


    clarkson tested it and the car cannot be used for turning at high speeds

    • Hey TG fanboy.

      This is a CONCEPT car, it wasn’t meant to be driven at all, and unlike in TV show, TG Magazine did a comprehensive story about it. The car isn’t even being tuned properly, they just scrabble the parts together and don’t even do calibration and stuff.

      I really hate TG fanboy who thinks Clarkson is God, let’s be frank he is an entertainer now and his comment is purely made for entertainment.

  • TheHake

    VW makes a special car every year for the VW gathering in Wörthersee, Austria (Wörtherseetreffen). This was the car for 2007. The last couple of years the VW ‘specials’ were very boring compared to this.

  • Knotmyrealname

    …and apparently it achieved 57 mpg with less than 97 grams of CO2 emissions.

  • Vassilis

    They should have built the R420.

  • Laimis Ir Tiek


  • I like it when manufacturer is having a bit of a fun and appreciate the fans like VW did in Worthesee.

    More manufacturer should do this kind of thing.

  • JR Glide

    VW = A criminal company recently exposed of using live monkeys in their VW vehicle development lab gas chambers to test their diesel emissions cheating device. Wow, so ethical. German habits die hard…..

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