In annual gathering of Volkswagen enthusiasts at Woethersee in Austria, the new three-door hatchback was conceived as the wildest, fastest and most powerful incarnation of the Golf GTi ever. With rear-wheel drive and a mid-mounted 12-cylinder engine producing 650 horsepower, its specification meets and beats those of some of the world's most celebrated supercars.

Although it's just a concept car for now, there appears to be real intent in its existence, with high-ranking Volkswagen insiders suggesting it is a signal of what is in store as new VW Chief Martin Winterkorn makes changes aimed at raising Volkswagen's profile.

No ordinary-looking Golf GTi, the W12-650 receives a bespoke steel and carbon-fiber body shell styled in-house under Volkswagen Design Boss Klaus Bischoff.

"Our target was clearly defined. Despite the dramatic technical changes carried out underneath, we strived to retain a classic GTi appearance," he says, adding, "The biggest challenge was to provide the mid-mounted engine with sufficient air without upsetting the silhouette to any great degree." Among the concessions to cooling are a gaping duct up front and substantial openings set into the sills behind the reworked doors. The rear windows have also been reshaped to allow air to enter the body along the leading edge of the C-pillars.

The car has a truly menacing stance and take-no-prisoners visual attitude that's sure to have Volkswagen fans drooling with delight. The standard Golf GTi's 101.5-inch wheelbase has also been shortened by 2.8 inches, providing the W12-650 with a more compact appearance.

At the heart of the Golf GTi W12 is a specially developed twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 engine constructed by Volkswagen's Motorsport division. Mounted longitudinally behind the front row of seats, it produces more than three times the power and double the torque of the standard Golf GTi's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder power plant, pushing out 650 hp at 6,000 rpm and 553 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm.

The prodigious reserves are transferred to the concept car's rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox with shift paddles on the steering wheel and a locking differential to ensure traction remains strong during full-bore getaways.

Volkswagen claims 0-62-mph acceleration in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed that goes 57 mph beyond that of the showroom version of the Golf GTi to a breathtaking 202 mph.

What this means to you: This GTI concept offers a level of performance that will embarrass all but the top echelon of supercars on sale today.

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