Driven! Volkswagen GTI W12-650

We mutually agree to forget what just happened, to give me a second chance, and to bring this baby home safe and sound and undamaged. I promise and cross my fingers.

This time it works. I keep it on the track. This time, red-flagging the white GTI to call it a day won't do. Oh no. This time, they'll need to physically block my path. Which they do, and by the time they pull me out of the car, I look and smell like a drenched wharf rat.

Make that a happy drenched wharf rat. This GTI, boys, is better than a night in Nymphetteville. Better than two bottles of vintage 2000 Brunello.

Probably even better than a splash-and-dash bungee jump, although come to think of it, perhaps not.

The flicker in my eyes didn't go away for days. And my dreams definitely no longer revolve only around that dinner date with Nicole Kidman. You know, the one that'll never happen.

Theoretically, the big white GTI is good for 203 mph. The main runway of Gross-Dlln, which once was East Germany's main military airport, is theoretically long enough to attain 203 mph. I know it, because I did over 200 mph there in the Porsche Carrera GT. But the W12-650 show car is restricted to 124 mph. Does it matter? Not really - it was more than enough speed for me to spin it. And, more importantly, because the surface deteriorates quickly when you spin off the pavement after the final left-hander.

First, it's just gravel and sand. Then it's gravel and sand and vegetation.

Eventually, you start counting rabbits on the left and deer on the right, not to mention half a dozen buzzards practicing take-off and landing.

So we stick to the track, which looks like sandpaper but feels like liquid soap. Since you run out of third at the end of the longest non-wriggly bit, 113 mph is Vmax. Not a lot by race car standards, but bloody quick for an experimental vehicle that will in all likelihood never make it into production. Ignore the shift paddles, that's what they had said. Use the gear lever in Tiptronic mode instead. Sure, no prob, everything roger and cool.

For about ten laps, the car works perfectly. Then the bug that seems to live inside this wild GTI-on-steroids finally reaches the transmission. From now on, it's say a prayer and hope for the best. Upshifts happen as they should, but downshifts sometimes happen, sometimes don't. Sometimes they need two or three attempts; sometimes you go from four to two in one shrieking high-rev lesson.

Are the instruments on top of the dashboard really displaying boost pressure and exhaust temperature? Or are these needles reflecting the driver's pulse and blood pressure? Thump, thump, thump. Never mind. Here we go again.

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