I’m calling it here — a hot Atlas will (probably) become a thing.
Okay, look: I know there are a fair number of you who grumble and groan any time you see the words “performance” and “SUV” in the same sentence. I hear you, and I do sympathize. I’m a huge hot hatchback fan, hence my excitement over Volkswagen finally bringing the new GTI and Golf R to the U.S. Those cars hit a serious sweet spot between performance and practicality. But — BUT — they’re not the sort of cars many people buy these days. No, folks want larger, more cumbersome SUVs that can hack it as both an everyday family cruiser and something of a sports car, for better or worse. The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT plays right into that expanding niche by adding a hot crossover to the brand’s arsenal.
Self-proclaimed full-time professional VW nerd Jamie Orr modified an Atlas Cross Sport to create this concept, including giving it a whack of power straight from the Golf R. The EA888 engine, coupled with an IS38 turbo and extra radiator from the Mk7 Golf R, manages a healthy 300 horsepower. Other substantial changes include 22-inch ABT Sport HR Aerowheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Sport tires, ST Suspension XTA Plus 3 coilovers, Tarox eight-piston front brakes and gloss black exterior trim, not to mention the “GT” badges, Recaro Sportster CS seats and the Eisvogelblau (Kingfisher Blue) color scheme.
“The launch of the all-new Golf GTI and Golf R got us thinking about how to inject some of that VW magic into our SUVs,” says Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keough. “This concept is proof that it’s possible to build SUVs that could appeal to our performance enthusiast base.”
Frankly, it needs to happen.
Volkswagen will bring the Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept to a few “select events” across the US later this year. And really, if all the Ford Explorer STs, Dodge Durango R/Ts and SRTs, and all the BMW Ms and Mercedes AMGs I see on the roads are any indication, it’s something the company should consider actually putting into production. Like with the Basecamp, they’re definitely testing the waters here. What’s more, it seems the public at-large like them, even if they can be a bit unwieldy compared to your proper sports car.
Just an opinion here, but if the market insists on performance SUVs, you might as well lean in. So, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some version of this at dealers at some point in the future. Europe gets the T-Roc R and Tiguan R after all, so why not have a hot Atlas?