The GTI meeting at Wörthersee is a veritable cult and pure automobile passion. Just like the car everybody is celebrating and driving there. There ought to be 150,000 fans showing up again in 2013. From 8 through 11 May 2013, they will turn the Austrian city of Reifnitz into a Mecca of the GTI scene. Traditional highlight: the world premiere of a concept car conceived by Volkswagen engineers and designers especially for the meeting. This year, it is a visionary GTI for car racing—the “Design Vision GTI.” An unmatched 370 kW / 503 PS Golf. The progressive design study is based on the seventh-generation GTI that was launched just now in Europe, transferring the design and power potential of the icon to the world of car racing. Visually, particularly intriguing: The design team under the aegis of Klaus Bischoff (Head of Design of Volkswagen Brand) has drawn the C pillars and side sills outward as autonomous body elements, thus creating space for substantially enlarged track widths and specially developed 20-inch wheels (with 235 tyres in the front, 275 tyres in the rear). The “Design Vision GTI” achieves 300 km/h, and despite extreme modifications, it comes across as very homogeneous thanks to the precise styling based on the Volkswagen design DNA: this “Super-GTI” could start tomorrow in a racing series!
The new Golf GTI is already more of a clear leader on the road than ever with an output of 162 kW / 220 PS or 169 kW / 230 PS (Golf GTI Performance), respectively. Now Volkswagen has more than doubled this power on board of the “Design Vision GTI,” with the 503 PS (at 6,500 rpm) mentioned above. So what's working under the bonnet in the front is not a series four-cylinder but a V6 engine. As with the 2.0-litre engine of the production GTI, however, the 3.0 litre engine of the concept car is a TSI - a direct injection petrol engine with turbocharger. In this case, two turbochargers are on board. Two three-way catalytic converters arranged close to the engine optimise emission behaviour. The V6-TSI develops 500 Nm already in the lower engine speed range (as of 2,000 rpm) and a maximum torque of 560 Nm (between 4,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm). This force is distributed to the front and rear wheels via a dual clutch gearbox (DSG) and an all-wheel drive.
With this drive concept and a specially designed sports chassis, the “Design Vision GTI” virtually eats up any type of race track. And pretty damn quick at that: After a mere 3.9 seconds, the study is already going 100 km/h fast.
In order to slow down the GTI with corresponding power, going 300 km/h fast as mentioned above, Volkswagen uses ceramic brake discs all around. In the front, the brake callipers grip onto 380-mm discs; at the rear, the diameter is 356 mm. The ceramic brake discs and red-painted brake callipers shine through the spokes of the 20-inch alloy wheels, which have likewise been redesigned. The front wheels (8.5J x 20, ET32) are fitted with 235/35 tyres; the rear wheels (9.5J x 20, ET25) are equipped with 275/30 tyres.
The design of the new rims adopts the formal concept of the “Austin” GTI wheel, which in turn is a subtle derivative of the “Denver” GTI classic. The wheel of the “Design Vision GTI” features blades that are integrated into the design and discharge the hot air of the brake system optimally through the wheel openings. The wheel bolts are covered; this way, the appearance of a central lock is created. A shallow press-in depth allows for a slight key shape of the wheels, which in turn creates visually exciting reflections on the polished surfaces.
Two things become crystal clear when seeing the “Design Vision GTI” for the first time. First: This car is a Volkswagen. Second: This car is a Golf GTI. This may sound banal but it's exactly this visual clearness that is part of Volkswagen's secret of success. Klaus Bischoff: “We put our claim to be a global player on a new basis with the DNA of our universal design idiom. A design that visualises the brand's identity without a doubt is binding for all models that carry the VW logo. Thus each model is recognised as a true Volkswagen by its distinctive design.” That also applies to extreme sporty cars like the “Design Vision GTI.” Result: The concept car makes such a natural and obvious impression as if it could go into production tomorrow. Klaus Bischoff again: “We wanted to bring out the design elements of the GTI as concisely, dynamically and emotionally as we could so as to get to the heart of the fascination that this car emanates.”
Two more things are likewise clear at first glance: First: This car is a racing car. Second: This car is impressive, extremely impressive. Both are to be ascribed to its distinctive racing design and its extraordinarily dynamic proportions.
Already the production GTI shows extremely crisp proportions. Here the benefits of the new Modular Transverse Matrix (MBQ) take effect. Among other things, it enables the front axle to be arranged farther to the front. Result: a long wheel base and shorter front overhang. With 4,253 mm, the “Design Vision GTI” is exactly 15 mm shorter than the production GTI. This explained primarily by the more compact rear apron. The new Golf GTI is not more than 1,442 mm high. This measurement has been once more reduced by 57 mm to 1,385 mm in the “Design Vision GTI.” Last but not least, the concept car is significantly broader: 1,870 mm instead of 1,799 mm. The track widths also fit the picture: For the Wörthersee GTI, it's 1,595 mm in the front and 1,579 mm in the rear; the production model, which is already quite self-assured, measures 1,538 (front) and 1,516 mm (rear). Thus the “Design Vision GTI” has even more extreme proportions than the production GTI. The ratio of height to width in particular indicates that the concept car belongs on the race track.
Developing a show car for the GTI meeting at Wörthersee always presents the opportunity to outline extreme ideas and pack a solid portion of “emotions” into the draft. The guidelines for the designers are straightforward and clear-cut. Klaus Bischoff: “The team was to allow for a spectacular glance into the future of the GTI - in other words, to realise a vision.” No problem for the designers. After all, with Marc Lichte, Andreas Mindt and Philipp Römers, the same team who developed the latest Golf and the new GTI, also collaborated in the development of the “Design Vision GTI.” This team breathed the charisma of a race car into the concept car presented at Wörthersee.
By contrast, the colour concept of the “Design Vision GTI” is nothing if not classic. It follows the traditional GTI triad of “black – white – red.” The paint is white (“White Club”), the add-on parts are black (“piano paint black”), and the GTI insignia as well as the strip integrated in the front are red.
Side profile. Probably the most concise feature is the C pillar in the side section designed as a detached element. To be more precise: The back roof pillar, which has always been characteristic of the Golf and hence of the GTI, is drawn outward as an autonomous design element, while the body narrows more strongly toward the rear. This process starts already right behind the front wheel with a vertical air outlet at the height of the front door joint. In parallel to that, the sill grows continually outward until its upper edge merges with the C pillar to spring forward again in the roof - a stylistic device that gives the spectacular shape of this GTI the necessary homogeneity.
A honeycomb grid, designed with the proverbial love for detail, closes the space between the widening and the body - a masterly achievement in terms of model building and attainable only with the help of computer-based technologies.
Front end. In a similar sculptural manner, the GTI design is varied in the front section. The radiator grille, the bottom air inlet and the side openings for the cooling of the brakes are combined with the headlights into a unit that is framed by an exactly defined edge. The precision and straightforwardness of its lines again follow the Volkswagen design DNA. Grille and air inlets - although re-interpreted - consciously underscore its relatedness to the production GTI; thus the honeycomb structure in the grids is a natural and obvious stylistic device. The so-called “blades” are an especially prominent detail, emphasising as spoiler edge the sculptural character of the front in the bottom area.
A shining core element of any front design is the headlights. Very consciously, the designers adopted the look of the production GTI here as well. Nonetheless, the concept car shows options of how headlights and radiator grill could look in the future: The red line typical for the GTI front divides the headlights of the “Design Vision GTI” horizontally. In the bottom half, the visual elements are set back; the design gives the “eyes” somewhat of a dramatic depth - an innovative variation of the “evil eye” popular with GTI up-daters. At this point, our Volkswagen designers like to speak alternatively of a “determined” look or simply about a “self-assured appearance.”
The long and wide bonnet, whose lines extend sideways right into the bottom border of the side window graphics and toward the back up to the C pillar, thus making the body look longer and more powerful, also makes a definitely self-assured impression - a design feature that also distinguishes the production version of the new GTI from all its predecessors. The bonnet itself has an outside lid joint at exactly the same height as the horizontal all-round line that is typical for the Golf VII - a design motif with which the new Golf quotes the classic Golf I.
Rear end. Analogous to the front end, an all-round precise edge makes for a consistent picture in the rear as well. The integration of the rear spoiler is the same as for the production car, while the aerodynamically conceived ribs of the rear diffuser dominate at the bottom end; the diffuser is framed by the silencer end pipes. The design of the tail lights is well-known as an element of the Golf light signature typical for the brand. What's new here are the two horizontal “blades” arranged underneath that connect the rear and the drawn out side part with each other.
Like with the exterior, the typical charisma of a GTI should be palpable in the interior as well - consistently sporty and fit for active driving yet cultivated when it comes to design features. Consequently, the credo of the team briefing by Tomasz Bachorski, Head of Volkswagen Interior Design: “Pure GTI. Concentration on the truly essential. But with style.” Nothing easier than that. After all, the designers responsible for the concept car, Boris Grell, Jan Haacke and Guillermo Mignot, are at home in all Volkswagen interiors - from the up! to the Phaeton - and know how to fine-tune the interior concept individually to the character of each vehicle.
With regard to the “Design Vision GTI,” the notion of “reduced design” so popular with designers has been radically applied. And this means: As few switches as necessary, and the ones that are left are arranged precisely and in such a way that they can still be operated intuitively even with a very sporty driving style. Thus the steering wheel is equipped with ergonomically optimised DSG gear shift paddles. And not only that: The driving mode switches are located (“Street,” “Sport” and “Track”) under the cross panels; the start button is on the right.
The designers have integrated the switches and rugged turn knobs for climate control as well as the hazard light switch and the activation of the on-board camera in the upper section of the centre console A vehicle main switch, a push-button for the fire extinguisher and the ESP deactivation are underneath, features that are typical for racing cars. The bottom part of the centre console is dominated by the DSG gear shift - it consists of a vertical handle with dynamic contours, as in racing.
The shapes of the dashboard and the centre console correspond to the well-known GTI interior in their configuration; they are arranged, though, in an even more driver-oriented way, as in motor racing. The surfaces are more taut, the edges harder and more precisely formed. The technical impression is reinforced by the partial use of carbon. Moreover, alcantara in “Anthracite” and “Titan Black” as well as nappa leather in “Black” and “Flash red” dominate the interior. One pleasant detail on the doors is a handle in the shape of a red loop - reminiscent of the Porsche Cup models. The space of the back seats is taken by an X-shaped cross member, which heightens the body stiffness another notch up. The seat belt retractors for the red suspender belts are integrated into the cross member. In the meantime, two black integral helmets are stored away close at hand under the cross member.
All purism notwithstanding - the designers also show how they imagine networking the “Design Vision GTI” with the social community: A large display to the right of the main instruments also shows the circuit in question and supplies information about the times driven. The show-stopper is: The display communicates with other vehicles on the course and calculates the details about the current status of the race in real time. Anybody wanting to have the community take part in the race can direct the cameras integrated into the A pillar either to the track or in the interior. Klaus Bischoff again: “The design of the interior is the area where we expect unusual technical and formal innovations. That's where we set the trends.”
And finally: As spectacular as the “Design Vision GTI” is at first glance - the concept car will be still fascinating after you've seen it the umpteenth time. Because the viewer will discover new, exciting design elements each time he looks. And it becomes clear that the production GTI features the identical charisma of perfectly well-balanced sportiness - and not only for the ride on the race track but for each day of the year.