The automaker recognized and appreciated the loyal cult following and, back in 2007, wanted to surprise the model devotees present at the largest festival of GTI owners held at Wörthersee, Austria, with an exclusive build, purely made out of passion and consideration for the legend that the model has become over the years.
The concept was mechanically fully functional, and it was designed and constructed in just two months prior to the aforementioned automotive event. It was named the Golf GTI W12-650, and it is the fastest Golf officially produced by Volkswagen ever, arguably the only factory-built "superhot" hatch in existence.
Of course, the monster powerhouse had no place under the hood where the original four-cylinder GTI engine would usually sit, so it had to be moved in the back section of the vehicle, taking the place of the rear seats. In other words, VW transformed their most potent Golf ever into a mid-engined rear-wheel-drive supercar-frightening speed machine. And enthusiasts loved it!
Served by the mighty W12 twin-turbocharged powerplant, the vehicle developed 650 hp and 553 lb-ft (750 Nm) of torque, enough to propel this almighty beast from standstill to 62 mph (100 kph) in just 3.7 seconds and could reach a claimed top speed of 202 mph (325 kph). These were compelling numbers for the time, considering that this Frankenstein-looking Golf could challenge established supercars such as the Lamborghini Murcielago or Pagani Zonda F.
Speaking of the exterior appearance, versus the stock Mk5 GTI body, the W12-650 had been significantly widened by 6.3 inches (16 cm), and the suspension was lowered by three inches (7.62 cm). The vehicle sat on massive 19-inch custom wheels and wide 235- front and 295 section tires in the rear. The chassis had been completely reworked, mainly by using the Audi R8 platform.
On the inside, the cabin reflected its racecar concept pedigree and was more about function than form. In other words, although VW deployed Alcantara leather upholstery all over the interior space, the W12 GTI got fitted with transparent switch guards for central functions, had no door liners, and even received a fire extinguisher in the glove compartment.
As crazed as it may seem, Volkswagen celebrated the whole hot hatch culture with this incredible build. Sadly, they never went on to put the Bentley-powered 650 hp rear-wheel-drive Golf GTI into production. It remains in history as a unique factory-built vehicle, a symbol of decades-worth of engineering evolution that shaped the compact-size performance vehicle segment as we all know it today.