Life in the carpool lane
Volkswagen’s Chairman, Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, thinks outside of the box. At Daimler Chrysler, where he toiled before departing for Wolfsburg, Bernhard concocted the brilliantly nutty Dodge Tomahawk concept car, a motorcycle with a Viper V-10 engine stuffed under the seat. Totally impractical. But a tricked-out bike called the Volkswagen GX3 Concept, unveiled today at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, might actually make it to production…if people want one bad enough. The Volkswagen GX3 concept is a motorcycle – like Bernhard’s Tomahawk creation – but with three wheels instead of two. The GX3 Concept is equipped with a double-wishbone independent front suspension and a single rear driven wheel. There’s no windshield, and the headlights are clustered high on the center of the hood. It holds two people, but Volkswagen says it qualifies for use in carpool lanes with just one person aboard because it is technically a bike and not a car. You’d need a helmet to drive this oddity, but VW has installed rather ungainly roll bars above the seats in case the GX3 flips. Volkswagen’s 1,257-pound G-force (G) Crossover(X) three-wheeler (3) accelerates to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 125 mph, and gets 46 mpg on the highway while producing up to 1.25 g-forces in tight corners. The GX3 Concept’s 1.6-liter, 125-horsepower four-cylinder engine sits behind the small trunk, propelling a huge 18-inch wheel wearing a 315/30 tire via a six-speed transmission and chain drive. The front tires are sized 215/45R17. Styling is minimalistic inside and out, patterned after today’s GP motorcycles and F1 racing cars. Surrounded by a steel spaceframe covered with fiberglass panels, the Volkswagen GX3 Concept’s interior contains five-point racing harnesses, “moto”-style instrumentation, and a stainless steel shifter. With the VW GX3 Concept, Volkswagen once again dares to be different. In the spirit of the original Beetle, the Microbus, and the Thing, the GX3 Concept could be in production by 2007, for a price of about $17,000. And that’s just brilliantly nutty enough to restore some luster to VW somewhat dull brand image in America.
Photos by Ron Perry