Just now the concept of rennwagenen is germinating in the U.S. with manufacturers like Toyota, Subaru and Mazda making serious bids for a piece of the action. The "action" is the 20- to 35-year-old crowd and their "active-outdoor" lifestyles, fictitious or not.

Volkswagen has been ahead of this curve, offering a variety of sedan and hatch-based derivatives in the European market for some time now. The Golf Country (a 4x4 hatch) was a great example of its thinking that unfortunately never caught on over here. The variant formula is simple-take a popular car and reconfigure its architecture. It makes perfect sense then, that VW would choose the extremely popular Jetta as the basis for a wagon.

Everything right with the Jetta is even "righter" in the Jetta Wagon. It's got a suspension that works, a brilliant turbocharged engine, and a cabin that is the most richly appointed in its segment. Buy one, stick a bike rack on top, pretend you're cool, and be happy in a great car.

That plan did not appeal to Chris Contreras at Giovanna Wheels. Oh, he wanted to be happy, but in a car so hugely modified it borders on becoming an entirely new animal. Imagine a DTM racer crashing headlong into a European speed shop-this is the likely outcome.

Volkswagen's practice of platform sharing means that most parts that fit one particular model will also fit another-it's the "body-in-white" mentality. Same thing goes for the aftermarket. The body on this wagon was augmented with Oettinger components, including its front bumper/spoiler, side skirts and rear valance. The hood is an ultra-light piece fabricated by DTM Carbon, painted silver but with sponsors names left in raw carbon-fiber. The nose also features an Oettinger grille with additional inlets for better breathing. Side mirrors are by Hagus and though small feature wide-angle optics for good reward visibility.

The vaunted 1.8t engine was massaged with Neuspeed's 240-hp kit, including a larger KKK K04 turbo, Neuspeed's ECU and its brilliant big-mouthed turbo inlet. Oettinger's downpipe and exhaust help the motor achieve maximum, tire-smoking efficiency. And while this motor combination is fairly common (because it works), the treatment to the mill's cover looks like something from HR Geiger's "Necronomicon." It's got a sort of "ghost in the machine thing" going on in there. Quick, someone get a priest.

Neuspeed helped revise the underpinnings with its Sport Springs and sizable front and rear swaybars, measuring 25mm and 28mm, respectively. Adjustable Tokico Illumina Sport Dampers keep chassis movement under control. Neuspeed's upper and lower tie bars help maintain rigidity in an already tight chassis. Running stock is Giovanna's Genoa wheels, forged units that measure 9x18 and feature a tough, black powdercoating. Toyo T1-S tires are sized at 225/40ZR-18. They look really good.

The cabin has been outfitted with a full aluminum cage, a finely crafted piece from Wiechers. The cage is sectional and can be removed should Contreras decide to actually use his car to transport more than himself. Deeply bolstered Sparco Milano seats include the same Alcantara material the factory uses and are augmented with Sparco safety harnesses and floor plates. The driver's view includes a dashboard featuring TORA Sports' trim kit and a beefy Sparco Flash-3 steering wheel connected to a DTM Autohaus quick-release hub. Gorgeous Oettinger pedals feature a brushed aluminum finish, and the instrumentation includes MoonEyes/Autometer boost and oil-pressure gauges.

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