The Volkswagen GTI will get a carbon fiber roof. VW is apparently working hard on making a carbon fiber roof a reality for the Golf line. The new technology will most likely debut in the all-wheel drive Golf R (shown above), then a few years later work its way down to the front wheel drive GTI and possibly the TDI.
The carbon fiber roof will save 18-20-lbs of weight off the car. While that isn’t a huge savings in a 3,000-lb car, the roof is the highest point in the car so that weight will have a big impact on the car’s center of gravity. The carbon fiber roof will have obvious handling and performance effects, which is why it will undoubtedly debut on the Golf R and hopefully make it’s way to the GTI, but it could also help with fuel economy, which is why it might someday end up on the TDI or other models focused on high MPGs.
The aftermarket has had carbon fiber roof options for a lot of cars for some time, but as a factory installed item they are pretty rare. Only high end sports cars like the BMW M3 typically get a carbon fiber roof because the cost is so high that most cars in the VW Golf R’s price range would benefit more from other technology (more power, lighter wheels, better suspension tuning, etc.) and the carbon roof would be more of a novelty. Now carbon fiber’s cost has come down to the point that VW thinks it can make a case for including it on the golf. Hopefully this is the marker of a new trend and we’ll start to see carbon fiber body panels become the norm (I’ve often wondered while trying to open a hatch back with two hands full of groceries why carbon fiber hatches weren’t more popular).