In this paper we present a new concept of a configurable modular rapid prototyping system called COMPASS (configurable modular platform for automotive systems). Our ambition is to support the design engineer in all phases of the rapid prototyping (RP) process, including the concept-oriented, the architecture-oriented and the realization-oriented RP. Therefore we provide one unique and flexible development platform that covers all phases. The overall performance and flexibility is reached by the special system structure and the intensive use of FPGAs in combination with a high performance processor. This offers the potential to implement automotive applications with highly specialized peripherals, fast interfaces and communication channels to cope with today's requirements. Moreover programmable logic devices allow hardware reuse to a very high degree in contrast to existing commercial products. The proposed platform saves costs since the versatile configurable interface cards can be used for different purposes and so feature benefits over function specific hardware modules. As a special bonus the flexible and adaptive structure of the platform associated with the reconfigurability of the modules is not only restricted to RP, but also permits the usage as a hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) test system.