Volkswagen is the purveyor of insane and inspiring concept vehicles that everyone wants and nobody can have. I’m not off base by saying that either. The W12 Volkswagen Nardo was a bombshell that never made it to production. The Vision Concept from 2014 was a wild and crazy GTI one-off and we’re still waiting to see if they’ve got the moxy to bring the Budd-e concept to market. They’re not just capable of making concepts that don’t run through. Today they’ve borrowed a little unobtainium from one of their greatest technological feats and it’s being used to make every one of their cars since faster.
After the emission scandal a few years ago they created the I.D. program featuring electric-only vehicles of various types. They added one truly special car called the I.D. R to go racing with. Frankly, the I.D. R is an absolute monster of a racecar and so Volkswagen was right to set their sights on something truly special. They decided that they would go to hallowed Pikes Peak and win the race to the clouds.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is a race that has taken place every year since 1916 and is widely considered the most prominent hill-climb in the world. The road was completely made of gravel and dirt in its early years and over the century has slowly been paved in sections. That meant for almost its entire history the cars that came to compete needed to be capable of handling dirt, gravel, and tarmac. In 2012 the entire course was paved for the first time leading to specialized cars that could accelerate, brake, and handle faster than ever leading to a new record time of 9:46 up the nearly 5000 ft ascent. Volkswagen had never experienced major success at Pikes Peak and they knew that winning would take real technological force.
Serious force is exactly what they brought too. The I.D. R has two electric motors, one at each axle producing a combined 671 horsepower. It weighs less than 2500lbs which translates to a 0-60 time of 2.25 seconds, according to arstechnica.com. Having instant torque, incredible power and low weight were sure to give the I.D. R a leg up at the track but it also sidestepped one of the major problems most cars going up the hill face. As gasoline cars climb the hill the air thins and they risk running richer and richer causing a loss in power and speed. Since electric powertrains aren’t effected by altitude the I.D. R would be as spry at the top of the mountain as it was at the starting line.
Where most cars struggled to break the 10-minute mark for years Volkswagen was going up against an incredible overall record set in 2013 of 8:13 seconds, far faster than anyone had gone before. Volkswagen had never competed with the I.D. R anywhere but that didn’t stop them from acting as though they had been there and crushing their competition. The previous electric record was 8:57 and VW took a full minute off that when they posted a 7:57. That record still stands today.
While the supercar itself won’t ever see public streets, Volkswagen has been utilizing the technology and the data they gather from the I.D. R to enhance their vehicles ever since the release of the I.D. R in 2018. That means today you can find real race car tech in some of the best driving used VWs out there. And while Volkswagen hasn’t always been known for its reliability there’s nothing to fear when it comes to buying one that can pass a quality VIN check and pre-purchase inspection. The company may have an overall record of not releasing its greatest concept hits but at least they’re demonstrating a real commitment to using the sustainable technology from the I.D. program in their lineup today too. You can thank the I.D. R and its insane cutting edge tech for the lightspeed transition VW has been able to make from combustion to electric. Production on the I.D. 3 started in November of 2019 so you can have your own little slice of unobtainium now.