Volkswagen has always had a handle on the small and sporty market. The long-heralded Beetle is just about as iconic as it gets and since the turn of the millennium, the German automakers been tightening the screws on innovation. Streamlined, powerful and littered with enough technology to satisfy the fussiest of drivers, cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI have become staples at car meets, performance showrooms and track-showings. So, imagine the response when Volkswagen unveiled the Atlas Cross Sport GT earlier this week. A 300HP family SUV concept that sits somewhere between the performance Golf, sensible daily driver and powerhouse Amarok.
Inspired by the launch of the Golf R, the GT concept cops a host of new upgrades to create a crossover that VW Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said would “appeal to our performance enthusiast base”. And indeed it does. The brainchild of VW brand ambassador Jamie Orr, the Atlas Cross Sport GT takes the best of the brand’s handiwork and drops it into a light SUV.
The GT concept features a version of the EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four found in the Golf R. In return, Volkswagen says the new SUV concept makes over 300HP, routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, instead of the usual eight-speed auto. It also comes as all-wheel drive and no official performance figures have been released, you can expect it will be a fair sight quicker than the 7.5-second 60-mph sprint the V-6 model posted.
On the outside, the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT is a smooth operator. It cops a sportier stance thanks to the 22-inch ABT Sport HR Aerowheels with blue accents shod in Yokohama Advan Sport V105 285/35R-22 rubber. The suspension is lowered as well, featuring custom ST Suspension XTA Plus 3 coil-overs with blue, GT Concept–branded springs.
Inside, it’s more of the same. We’ve got custom door panels, seatbelts, gearshift, steering wheel and floor mats, to go along with the special Recaro Sportster CS seats. The rear bench has been removed, with two Recaros taking its place to make this a four-passenger car, with the GT also opting for a secondary centre console in the second row.
While you could argue the new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT is a Golf R Wagon in plain SUV clothes, the new release does sit in an interesting spot. Somehow, the new concept doesn’t quite feel like either and yet, it’s the perfect addition to VW’s growing SUV line. Whether it’s a case of covering all bases or just VW employee’s love letter to the urban SUV, the new Atlas Cross Sport GT is an interesting premise.