Volkswagen isn’t known for building supercars, however, the GTI Roadster may change our perceptions of the company that was built on the Bug.
The German automaker is set to reveal the spectacular GTI Roadster concept car in North America for the first time at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. First seen at the Wörthersee enthusiast festival in Austria in May, this car erases the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds and promotes the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture that underpins the new Golf, Golf GTI, e-Golf, and Golf R models.
Originally created for the Sony PlayStation 3 video game, “Gran Turismo 6,” the two-seat convertible is a masterpiece of auto design.
“When Sony asked us if we would develop a Vision GTI vehicle exclusively for the game to mark the 15th anniversary of Gran Turismo we didn’t hesitate for a moment,” said Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design at Volkswagen.
Although the GTI Roadster is nice to look at, it isn’t just a pretty face. It is a true performance vehicle. Powered by a 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbocharged TSI engine that produces 503 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm, the GTI Roadster can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in an estimated 3.5 seconds and has a top track speed of 192 mph. The brakes are suitably large to cope with the car’s performance: 15.0 inches in diameter at the front and 14.0 inches at the rear.
The GTI Roadster’s body was aerodynamically optimized, with the most prominent visual feature being the large rear wing that creates plenty of downforce. Ahead of the wing, the C-pillars—which are a defining design element of the Design Vision GTI, extending into the roof—form a roll-over bar. The rear spoiler gives the appearance of a wing hovering behind the roadster.
The GTI Roadster sports a radiant, intensive red metallic color called “Gran Turismo Red” to the new color.
“We were looking for a very provocative and aggressive red,” said designer, Malte Hammerbeck. “The car should look fast, even when it is standing still.”
All bolt-on parts are designed in matte carbon as an accent that complements the high-gloss red of the body. Only the radiator grille and the screen over the engine compartment vent are finished in high-gloss black.
The doors on the GTI Roadster swivel up and forward, visually splitting a prominent character line into an upper and lower half. The contours of the doors are also very distinctive because they are framed by the side skirts (trimmed with the “Gran Turismo” badge at the rear), the C-pillar, and the heavily flared wheel arches. A small, but exclusive detail on the sides is the illuminated GTI badge that is integrated in the “tornado” line. On the upper door section, the side window forms a line that rises forward with the low-profile windscreen, like a speedboat’s.
The GTI Roadster is equipped with two race-style buckets, placed low. The seats and the four-spoke grip-style steering wheel are covered with Alcantara. The cockpit display is mounted directly to the steering column, far ahead of the driver and the steering wheel is mounted on a very long, exposed steering column, which is typical of a race car. Designers located the red, illuminated rotary light switch and shift paddles to the left and right of the steering wheel’s central axis, so the driver never has to move his hand off the wheel.
The GTI front end has a three-dimensional design with bumper elements that appear to hover and a splitter that is designed to increase downforce at the front end. Classic Golf GTI design elements such as the prominent VW badge, the red radiator cross strip, and GTI logo are offset by dual LED headlights and LED daytime running lights that have an unmistakable light signature. Viewed from the rear, the carbon blades at the front continue uninterrupted across the side skirts and into the rear section as a wrap-around element. At the rear, they serve as aerodynamically optimized air ducts. The rear diffuser is highlighted by metal slats and two low-slung rear lights. The trapezoidal dual exhaust tailpipes (with GTI badging) are positioned in the middle of the car above the diffuser. Adding to the layered look at the back are the narrow three-dimensional lights and the spoiler above it.