VW’s Insane Golf R Wagon and GTI Concepts Hide Serious Power

The VW Golf Estate R FighteR and GTI Aurora may look subtle, but beneath the skin, these customized Volkswagens pack more tech and performance than you’d imagine.

Ask the average American what the word “Wörthersee” refers to, and they’ll probably guess it’s some sort of German hard candy. Ask a Volkswagen fan, however, and they’ll tell you it’s a lake in Austria where VW GTI fanatics congregate every year for a celebration of their favorite hot hatch. Nowadays, those fans include a contingent from Volkswagen itself; the carmaker usually sends down vehicles built specially for the occasion. For the 2019 installment of the event formally known as Wörtherseetreffen, VW brought in not one but two very special examples of hotted-up Golfs — both whipped up by college-aged apprentices working at the company.

Technically speaking, the VW Golf Estate R FighteR isn’t a hot hatch; the added length aft of the C-pillar makes it very clear that this is a station wagon. Indeed, the basic chassis is the same as the Golf SportWagen offered here in the United States. But while our Golf wagons top out at 147 horsepower, the Golf Estate R FighteR packs 395 horses — 100 more than the stock Golf R it’s based on. (Yes, Europeans get a Golf R station wagon. Get your jealousy out now.)

That juice flows to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch automatic. The looks benefits from a widebody kit that adds 2.4 inches to the car’s beam, as well as a bespoke silver-and-gray paint job and a light-bar-and-front-grille-strobes combo designed to help it serve as a safety car at Germany’s Sachsenring race track. A roof-mounted 360-degree camera adds a bit of future-facing tech to the package, while a custom audio system and extensive leather-and-Alcantara trim punch up the interior.

The VW Golf GTI Aurora, by contrast, may seem like an inferior proposition at first blush. After all, the gray-and-black Golf only makes 375 horsepower, and it has to route all that through the front wheels alone. But this GTI whipped up by a group of apprentices from Wolfsburg packs an ace up its sleeve — or rather, in its hatch. Mounted in the rear lies what Volkswagen describes as a working, interactive hologram system that can be used to control the car’s stereo.

The system is based on still-secret technology, VW says, and doesn’t require any special equipment to see or interact with. “It is like a mirage that you can clearly see,” Thomas Schmall, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen Group Components, said in a press release. “The hologram floats freely in the air, above the hardware that is integrated into a compact module in the luggage compartment.”

The Aurora’s holographic tech isn’t ready for production cars yet, VW says, but given that the carmaker made a point of illustrating that it’s based on existing components and capabilities, it seems as though the company is aiming to implement it at some point. In the meantime, if anyone happens to go to Wörthersee this week and see the holographic interface for themselves, let us know how it works.

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