A source at Volkswagen AG tells WAW that the upcoming VW sport/utility vehicle (SUV) - set for a 2002 launch - was developed with 12-cyl. power in mind.

Use of the peculiar "W-12" (essentially two of VW's narrow-angle VR6 6-cyl. engines married together to create something akin to a "W" layout) presumably would give last-minute-date-to-the-SUV-prom VW a unique position in what is rapidly emerging as the world's most crowded vehicle segment.

Although the source says prototypes of the new VW SUV were engineered for the W-12, there is no confirmation that the company will use the 12-cyl. engine in production - although it's a reasonable bet, considering VW's ambitions to drastically move the brand upmarket. The all-wheel-drive VW SUV also will employ a 4-valve-per-cylinder version of the standard VR6 as an entry level engine, but engineered for the first time for longitudinal mounting.

VW already has the 24-valve version of the VR6 in production, in its standard 2.8L displacement. The 2.8L VR6 may be downsized, however, to create a W-12 displacing 5L or less.