Behind the Wheel of the 500 HP VW GTI Design Vision Concept

By Matthew Askari | December 27, 2013
Lucky Volkswagen enthusiasts have seen the VW GTI Design Vision Concept in the flesh, but we're luckier still; Volkswagen asked us if we wanted to get behind the wheel and take its dramatic, stunning concept for a spin. Without delay, we said yes.
The Volkswagen GTI Design Vision originally debuted at the 2013 Worthersee Festival in Austria, a haunt for hardcore GTI and V-Dub enthusiasts. The GTI Design Vision made its U.S. debut at the H20 Festival in Maryland, and most recently it was unveiled to media in dramatic fashion at the 2013 LA Auto Show. Based on the seventh-gen Volkswagen GTI, a car we'll receive on these shores in 2014, the Design Vision takes a few liberties with its concept card. For starters, its powered by a twin-turbo, VR6 engine that makes no less than 503 horsepower, transmitted by a dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. To make sure the GTI can handle supercar power, it receives all-wheel drive, something the Wolfsburg automaker perfected on the VW Golf R. 0-60? About 3.9 seconds. Top speed? 186 mph, says V-Dub.
Beyond the numbers, this car simply looks stunning. With large air vents, aggressive cut lines at every angle, and beautiful, futuristic lighting, you get the impression that the GTI Design Vision is a rocket, harnessed but for a moment so that we can get a look at the beautiful body kit and detailing. It's 2.2-inches lower than the GTI, and the body kit makes it a tad shorter—about 0.6-inches—and a little wider. Inside is a bizarre, Spartan racer in luxurious garb. A simple cabin illustrates the concept's purpose, to be driven fast and hard. Red racing seatbelts offset the gray Alcantara that covers most surfaces, along with carbon fiber accents. The steering wheel has two buttons, one to start the ignition, the other to choose between three driving modes: street, sport, and track. Once fired up, there's a loud rumble at idle, as if the GTI Design Vision is saying c'mon, do you hear what's under this hood? Not wanting to start an argument, we hit the accelerator and thrust off, shifting from first to second quickly, and the short closed track quickly seems smaller. Again a shift to third, each shift emits a laser blip sound that rips through the cabin, and pulling tightly in to a turn you hear the rattle and clamor that is to be expected from a striking body kit wrapped around a tight suspension. On a brief straightaway the Volkswagen GTI Design Vision screams, before a downshift and the final turn in home. Leaving the cabin you're reminded that concepts are meant to be fantasy, and yes, it's not likely we'll see a production GTI with 500 ponies kicking under the hood in the next decade, or maybe ever. But we do see the possibilities of the MQB architecture that will frame the bulk of the future Volkswagen and Audi nameplates, and get a modern taste of the fittest VR6 engine around. Packed with style, the Volkswagen Group's future architecture provides a lot of fantasy, but there's also some real-world cues and anticipation for the future that can be extracted from the Design Vision.