Since its debut in the 1970s the GTI has been a prime example of Volkswagen’s willingness to test out new theories of design and performance, often with help from dealers, owners and third-party engineers who all just wanted this little car to go a hell of a lot faster. That purview still exists, but these days curb appeal is almost as much of a factor when choosing to put a vehicle into production as what fits under the hood. Many body shell atrocities of the ’70s and ’80s performed significantly better than a potential owner might have thought when browsing around that dealer lot.
Earlier this year at the Wörthersee GTI meeting in Austria, VW struck what might be the perfect balance with the Design Vision GTI, a drool-worthy concept of fierce construction and looks paired with a high-performance engine that could easily rival many of the low-to-midrange sports cars currently hitting the market. VW has somehow stuffed its massive 3.0-liter VR6 engine under the hood of the DV, supplemented by a pair of turbochargers that rocket this concept up to a whopping 503 horsepower, in line with the top of the range for the new Jaguar F-Type.
A generous 413 pound-feet of torque is shot through the wheels through a DSG dual-clutch auto transmission. Stick shift would be nice here, but getting our hands on it is our first priority. These impressive tech specs translate to a zero-to-62 mph sprint time of 3.9 seconds and a raring top speed of 186 mph.
The DV GTI’s design is compact, angular but sexy, exemplifying the slick, no-bull approach that has characterized the brand for years but taken to a much higher level. The car is a lot sportier than the current generation, achieved by lowering and widening the body and adding new tigerlike black accents along the front fascia and above the new back bumper. This could have come off a little tacky, but we think it works, as do the upgraded headlights, which really are outstanding in the new configuration.
Nomenclature aside, the Design Vision is literally a means to explore where the GTI as a brand will go. With the new Beetle and retro offshoots giving the company a bit of fun, the world’s largest automotive group is not resting on its laurels waiting for innovation to appear out of the clouds. Instead, the next generations of vehicles are being reinterpreted for new markets; even the famed luxury Phaeton may be thrown back into the North American leagues.
The Design Vision is still a concept for now, but we hope this slick hatch makes it to the realm of production down the road. More than most vehicles we’ve seen come through Crazy Concept, we feel this car could easily conquer the market.