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Volkswagen unveils 503hp 2013 Design Vision GTI at Worthersee Festival in Austria
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Volkswagen’s 503 hp, 186 mph Design Vision GTI concept

Volkswagen’s GTI has been a part of the hatchback landscape since 1974. For almost forty years the GTI has stretched its talents from sedate 3 or 5-door family runabout to the toasty 250 hp all-wheel-drive WR32. But now Volkswagen is set to tease followers with an excessively warm 503 horsepower concept – the Design Vision GTI.

Debuting at the Worthersee Festival in Austria this highly exaggerated concept is premised on VW’s 7th generation GTI. With a reported 503 hp onboard and a top speed of 186 mph (300 km/h) the Design Vision GTI deserves its own sub-species.

On the outside the concept instantly grabs attention thanks to its shorter, lower and stauncher presence. Compared to a regular GTI the Design Vision is 0.6 inches shorter (15.2 mm) thanks to a nipped and tucked rear bumper, lower by 2.2 inches (56 mm) and takes up an additional 2.8 inches (71 mm) horizontally thanks to reworked fore and aft haunches. But width for the sake of a broader butt is nothing without increasing the track. The concept thus increases its rear track by 2.5 inches (64 mm) and forward track by 2.2 inches (56 mm) relative to a normal GTI. And those punched out haunches come populated with specially developed 20 inch rims with 235 series rubbers up front and bigger 275 series out back.

Stylistically, the Design Vision GTI retains the basic family formatting, but over and above that it becomes something altogether new. According to Klaus Bischoff, VW’s Head of Design, the Design Vision project allowed his team an opportunity to stretch its creative talents and present a vision of the GTI for future generations. The space out by the C-pillars has been pulled away from the car to accommodate the wider track while presenting a much more aggressive stance. This exo-skeleton technique carries from the roofline, down the C-pillars across the door sills and up the backside of the front haunches, with the actual body of the car sitting inward in a Porsche GT like fashion. This approach allowed the team to experiment with the body without having to completely rework the GTI’s core architecture.


Up front, the inset technique is even more evident. Sharp narrowing blades help to visually merge the Design Vision’s body with the GTI’s front end. Even though the grille and inlets have been modified, the entire front end treatment gives the impression of a smaller, smirky GTI peaking out from with. The back end fares better with the swollen haunches flowing fluidly into the tweaked rear bumper. Visually the GTI’s overall design finish is conceptually outstanding, presenting itself as rally- or road-racing ready right out of the box.

This visionary GTI concept also packs a very special powerplant. Whereas regular performance GTI’s are allowed 230 hp to move about, the Design Vision GTI has been given special access to a 3.0 liter twin-turbo V6. This unconventional powerplant provides the GTI with 503 hp at 6,500 rpm and 413 lb.ft (560 Nm). of torque at 4,000 rpm, which in turns allows it to hit velocities of 186 mph (300 km/h).

In order to properly handle this power, the Design Vision GTI uses an all-wheel-drive system similar to the WR32, a specially tuned chassis and VW’s lightning quick DSG gearbox. All this adds up to a reported 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.9 seconds. Stopping all this conceptual power comes at the hand of carbon-ceramic discs – 15 inches front and 14 inches out back.

The GTI’s interior is plush in contrast to the car’s sharp exterior where VW has applied what it calls a “reduced design” treatment. This minimalist approach removes any excess switches or unnecessary items so as not to distract from the driving experience. Controls for heating, hazard lights and the on-board camera have been integrated into the upper portion of the console.

As VW sees this as a serious track device, an electric kill switch, ESP deactivator and a push-button for the fire extinguisher are placed on the steering wheel. Bits of carbon fiber are sprinkled throughout as is anthracite, Alcantara and red and black Nappa leather. And there’s no rear seat, thanks to a not very subtle X-shaped cross member put in place to stiffen the GTI’s torsional rigidity. But there are in fact tie downs for you and your spouse’s racing helmets.

If drivers were to get the Design Vision GTI on track they’d find a helpful display to their right. This display shows drivers a track map of the circuit they are currently running, along with lap times. Driver’s can also communicate with other racers via the GTI communication system or share interior or track video through strategically placed cameras in the A-pillar.

VW has no plans at this time to develop the Design Vision GTI. The Worthersee Festival runs in the Austrian City of Reifnitz until May 11.

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