Volkswagen fronts Nurburgring with 5-cylinder Golf

A Volkswagen Golf with more power than most V8s will take on the grueling Nurburgring 24 hour race in Germany.

Volkswagen will return to the grueling Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race in Germany this year with an all-new, purpose-built challenger, the Golf24.

The wide-bodied racer is powered by Audi's 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine tuned to deliver a hefty 324kW of power and 540Nm of torque (up by a massive 74kW and 90Nm over the TT RS donor car and almost double the output of the most powerful road-going Golf). Power is harnessed via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and permanent all-wheel drive.

The Golf24 is not the first fire-breathing, turbocharged five-cylinder-engined performance car with all-paw grip — that crown goes to the Audi Quattro from the early '80s, which was also the brand's first all-wheel-drive rally car. Other noteworthy five-cylinder-engined hot hatches include Ford's front-wheel-drive Focus XR5 and RS twins.

Last time a Volkswagen Golf visited the 25-kilometre circuit was in 2007 when a 220kW front-wheel-drive model finished in eighth place outright.

Enthusiasts keen to hand over a deposit for a road-going version of the Golf24 shouldn't hold their breath, though.

The 200-plus field of competitors includes several manufacturer teams competing with purpose-built, high-performance versions of regular road-going cars.

''The event enjoys huge popularity, is one of the true classics in motorsport and, due to its extreme distance and unique race track, also represents a very big technical challenge,'' says Volkswagen's motorsport director, Kris Nissen.

''... we want to provide an additional highlight in front of a large audience — right in time for the 35th anniversary of the GTI this year,'' Nissen adds, suggesting the potential release of a special, 35th anniversary edition of the Golf GTI.

Held at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife racing circuit, the 2011 Nurburgring 24 hour race takes place from June 23 to 26.