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VW Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept SUV packs a Golf R heart

VW's sleek-but-sleepy crossover gets a welcome hot-hatch personality injection. Now, will they build it?

VW's Atlas Cross Sport could use a more athletic trim, don't you think?

Volkswagen

Volkswagen spun the smaller Atlas Cross Sport off of its big-daddy three-row family Atlas SUV for 2020, and the sleeker-looking crossover manages to carve out a street presence all its own. Sadly, VW has thus far declined to capitalize on the Cross Sport's additional visual attitude by augmenting its performance credentials. The new Cross Sport GT Concept shown here suggests that the German automaker is starting to see some potential in a higher-performance version.

The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept ditches the standard crossover's 235-horsepower four-cylinder and optional 276-hp six in favor of the turbocharged 2.0-liter EA888 TSI mill out of the latest Golf R hot hatch. Tuned here to deliver 300-plus hp to all four wheels, this slicked-back concept figures to boast better acceleration than the milquetoast V6 production model, especially since VW has also fitted the Golf R's quicker-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox instead of the regular model's conventional eight-speed automatic.

Fashioned atop a regular SEL Premium R-Line model built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the GT Concept hunkers down low on ST Suspension XTA Plus 3 coilover shocks, and it wears big 22-inch ABT Sport HR Aerowheels clad in Yokohama Advan Sport rubber. The brakes have been upgraded, as well, principally the fitting of Tarox eight-piston calipers up front. The whole enchilada is coated in Eisvogelblau (aka Kingfisher Blue) paint, previously seen on some European-market models like the Arteon Shooting Brake.

The cabin hasn't escaped custom touches, either, including a set of Recaro Sportster CS seats front and rear that are edged in blue trim to complement the exterior. Additional color-matched tweaks include blue seatbelts, steering-wheel stitching and floor-mat piping, as well as a first-generation GTI-inspired golf-ball shifter knob. (The latter looks a bit odd sitting atop an automatic transmission gear selector.) By moving away from a conventional rear bench seat to two individual racing-style shells, VW created space for a one-off custom center console, complete with more USB charge ports.

Racy Recaro buckets give the Cross Sport's cabin a markedly sportier vibe.

Volkswagen

In the GT's announcement press release, Scott Keogh, Volkswagen Group of America's CEO, said, "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... this concept is proof that it's possible to build SUVs that could appeal to our performance enthusiast base."

VW isn't saying if the Cross Sport GT previews a future production model, but the automaker does plan to put the vehicle on tour at various events to gauge public perception. A higher-performance Cross Sport certainly strikes us as a worthwhile addition, especially since VW has easy access to a suitable driveline in its parts bin. After all, today's Cross Sport is a perfectly competent machine, but its athletic looks don't square particularly well with its rather dull driving dynamics.

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