The first instalment of our VW European adventure covered the almighty Golf R Variant, but that was simply part of the journey. The destination was the GTI Treffen at Worthersee, a small sleepy town in Austria that for one weekend every May (the weekend of their Father’s Day in Germany) becomes an absolute orgy for GTI and VW fanboys… er, I mean aficionados. Yes, yes, aficionados, I quite like that.
However, as part of our slow, teasing buildup to the grand event (who’s to say we can’t pick up a trick or two from car manufacturers), this post will cover Volkswagen’s corporate contribution to the revelry, an absolutely mad-scientist concept car: the Golf GTE Sport concept.
For starters, it’s a plug-in hybrid. But who cares about that stuff? More importantly, GULL WING DOORS! On a GOLF!!! Believe it or not, that is not the best part. The best part is the interior. Now this is a concept car interior. The buckets are luxe-modern suede-lined sport seats with five-point racing harness that are integrated right into the cabin’s interior shell. The centre console is armrest-high right up to the dash, creating a twin-cockpit environment for driver and passenger.
The steering ‘wheel’ looks straight out of an airplane or race car, and the gauges are Tron meets The Last Starfighter. (That’s a compliment in case you’re wondering.) The three tier gauges display the most commonly checked information like speed and range in the most forward panel, in a position closest to a driver’s field of vision with eyes on the road, and the nearer screens each display subsequently less crucial information. There is also a virtual ‘driving line indicator’ of the type we see in the latest racing video games like Forza Horizon or Gran Turismo 4. Also cribbed from aeronautical design are some overhead toggle switches to activate the different power and efficiency modes. Meanwhile, the passenger can track some basic info like speed and gear in their own little “Info Mode” or look up acceleration and g forces in “Data Mode”
Okay, the doors and interior are pure fantasy, exactly the way we love our concepts, but take note of the styling: this is far more angular and sharp-edged a design than we’ve seen from VW, so could we perhaps see something of an Art & Science design direction for Volkswagen? I can’t say that I object as I both love that Cadillac design wave and think that VW could inject a bit more drama into their vehicle lines. The press release was particularly proud of the split C-pillar that contributes to aerodynamic downforce and brake cooling and has its roots in the bonkers GTI W12-650 that was presented at this same event in 2007. According to the press release, “This C-pillar concept… has reached a degree of perfection that allows it to leave the show car stage and – as a design vision – bridge the gap to the Golf GT models of the future.” Could we see a split C-pillar on the next generation of Golf GTIs and Golf Rs? It’s a design flourish normally reserved for such exotica as the Ford GT or others, so it would be a coupe for VW to offer it on such a humble but storied franchise.