ItalDesign VW W12 Nardo Concept

Article by Christian A., on October 8, 2015

Italdesign Giugiaro stopped at nothing until it was able to transform two W12 concept cars into becoming the fastest cars worldwide with its systems that led to the highest levels of performance and driving dynamics.

The W12 Nardo Concept is the third stage of evolution of these two cars. It was at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show that everyone first witnessed the W12 Syncro prototype. Then at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show, we all saw the debut of the “roadster” – an improved version of the W12 Syncro – at Volkswagen’s stand.

At the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, audiences saw the final form of this sports car project, which is powered by a W12 engine derived from the motor sports world. After its debutt, the concept came into the stage of production development where tough decisions had to be made.

A speed record for distance driven in 24 hours was set in October 2001 by a W12 coupe prototype in its last phase of development. In this project, the technical staff of Volkswagen and the members of Italdesign Giugiaro have been closely working together to create the design.

The coupe’s body is flat and long while its subtly styled rear spoiler automatically extends when it reaches a speed of 120 km/h. This may be a dynamic sports car but it was designed to be timelessly elegant.

Because of the monocoque construction and the fact that the longitudinal engine is located at the back of the passenger compartment, the vehicle’s front end could maintain its flatness.

Safety and speed on the W12 coupe can be guaranteed with its technically advanced front and rear axle with double wishbone, multiple electronics modules, an exceptional weight distribution of almost 50:50, and an extended wheelbase of 2.63 metres.

Included in its wide range of safety systems are the traction control system TCS and the electronic stability program ESP. Response is managed via the brakes as well as by the central engine management system. Its wheels can avoid overspinning at speeds slower than 40 km/h as its brakes have been fitted with electronic differential locks.

If you want to bring the W12 coupe to the racing track, you may turn off its electronic running gear systems. The designers made these adjustments to the basic concept of the brake system in anticipation of these instances. The front and the rear have ventilated Brembo brakes with a disc diameter of 318 millimetres.

For convenience, the handbrake can be electrically triggered by simply pushing on a button. Now let’s talk about how a prototype in its final development stages was able to set a 24-hour world speed record on Feb. 23, 2002.

This 12-cylinder sports car, which boasts an output of 440 kW/600 bhp, drove 7,740.57600 kilometers (4809.8 miles) and was recorded to have an average speed of 322.891 km/h (200.67 mph). Two more world records were set by drivers in the over 5,000 kilometres and 5,000 miles categories as they drove the Volkswagen W12 Coupe that had the ability to reach 350 km/h (217 mph).

However, this unit had not been adapted to make the attempt to set the long-distance record. It had also done so well that it got six vehicle class records internationally.

In fact, it only took a trial run for it to break the class record for 12 hours. The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile or FIA had recognized the record drives achieved on the high-speed circuit at Nardo located near Lecce in southern Italy as these were accomplished in compliance with the agency’s official regulations.

The vehicle was put through the 24-hour test to study its performance potential and to determine just how robust its 12-cylinder engine is. There’s no argument that this sports car surpassed all requirements based on the records it set as well as on the initial technical assessments made on it.

Exterior Design

The design study W12 Coupe measures 4.55 metres long and over 1.92 metres wide, which already give the design study W12 Coupe a striking look based mainly on its dimensions. It also doesn’t hurt that the two-seater is only 1.1 metres tall.

Compared to the previous models, this design study has received more refinements. Its headlights were redesigned and its rear lights are similar to those on Volkswagen’s planned high-end models.

Fabrizio Giugiaro, the styling director of Italdesign, said that he is sure that this will be the “fastest and most reliable” car ever built. With an orange pearlescent finish, this sports car has been fitted with a couple of wing doors that have a front opening.

Its roof centre part is made of special glass which extends from the windscreen up to the end of the engine compartment. Through the transparent bonnet, we can get our first look at the W12 and its double V structure.

Appearing beside air intakes in its front end is its 6-litre machine that can breathe via other openings located near the barrier between the engine and passenger compartments.

Another highlight is its use of exclusively developed magnesium wheels with ZR front tyres that measure 255/35 and ZR rear tyres that are sized 275/40.

Interior Design

Inside the W12 coupe are leather, carbon, and aluminium. For instance, a black/grey suede finish is used on the fittings, seats, and door trims. They’re also accentuated with smooth leather that’s color-coded.

The steering wheel, which is covered with this same smooth leather, isn’t a perfect ring. Instead, its shape and function are similar to those used in concepts that participate in Formula One racing.

Its interior also uses aluminium, which comes with a red sheen that matches the exterior color. To get the right coloring and surface coat of the unpainted alloy, a new chemical process is being used by Volkswagen.

The instruments have a classic layout. It has a pair of two primary displays that have the most vital data like revs, speed, fuel tank, and engine temperature. At the center of this dash panel is a color display that controls the navigation system, the A/C controls, the car telephone, and the on-board computer.

Comfort is at a high level in the W12 coupe mainly because it is very spacious. Even if it’s a sports car, its designers were able to make it ideal when it comes to ergonomics and space. This design study transcends its role as a show car as it is highly practical and its features are at near-production levels.


It won’t be long before all Volkswagen models will be powered by high-torque W engines, which offer extremely low vibration levels and optimal acoustic merits. Typically, these engines will be used as standard equipment in the W12 coupe.

Volkswagen will launch these as an 8-cylinder (which is what happened with the Passat W8) and as a 12-cylinder version with different outputs and systems. Furthermore, a 16-cylinder version has been in development too.

This is set to be used in 2003 in the Bugatti EB 16.4 Veyron, which was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The 12-cylinder engine is incorporated in the design study W12 Coupe and with dimensions of 513 millimetres long, 715 millimetres tall, and 710 millimetres wide, it is quite compact.

The W12 weighs merely 239 kilograms and is sized at 5,998 cm3. Positioned inbetween the passenger compartment and the rear axle, this engine comes with an extremely torsionally rigid aluminium crankcase with cylinder sleeves that make it resistant to wear.

Its valve covers and timing chain covers are built with magnesium, which is further proof of its lightweight structure method. The W12 engine has a basic layout of a pair of thin V6 four-valve modules that have been configured at 72 degrees with a joint crankshaft with seven main bearings that result to a V-V structure.

But in between this pair of V6 banks, its cylinder angle is only at 15 degrees. As a result, the structure is possible as it is compact compared to V12 engines.

There are more signs that the W12 engine is indeed built with a very advanced assembly. First of all, it has a 12:1 compression ratio. Its spark plugs are located in the center of the pentroof combustion chamber, making optimal combustion a possibility.

This means the same could be expected for the intake ports, which have had their flow improved. Its torque curve is quite dynamic and so it is being supported by a double-flow magnesium variable intake manifold.

Power is given a boost by the variable intake and exhaust valve timing. There may be continuous adjustments done on the inlet camshafts until they reach 52 degrees. Meanwhile, the exhaust camshafts have a corresponding value of 22 degrees.

That’s why it’s not a surprise that the automaker prioritized how its materials added to performance during the W12 engine’s development stage. For instance, the W12 coupe uses only engine oils produced by Shell Helix.

Its emissions are regulated to ideal levels. The W12 coupe was designed to comply with the strict standards of the EU-4 norm with the help of its four starter catalysts as well as the two catalysts in the standard production variant.

Power from the engine is distributed to the rear axle through a sequential and fast 6-speed gearbox positioned at the back of the engine. This would be the perfect layout for a classic sports car.

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Topics: vw, concept, italdesign



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