Can the Electric Volkswagen I.D. R Dominate Pike’s Peak?

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2018 Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak racer

After a three-decade hiatus, Volkswagen is back to conquer Colorado. 

There are hillclimbs, and then there’s Pike’s Peak. The 12.4-mile scramble starts at 9,000 feet and ends at 14,115 feet above sea level. Needless to say, if you want to compete, you need nerves of steel — there are no guardrails on the difficult terrain, and one hell of a special car. In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Peugeot, Hyundai, and even Tesla leave their mark on the hillclimb. But for 2018, Volkswagen is back for the first time in over three decades, and it could be fielding a car for the ages.

The last time the automaker fielded a car was in 1987. That car, a Golf, was modified with two powertrains to make a combined 652 horsepower. Unfortunately, it lost out to an Audi Sport Quattro E2 modified to handle the circuit. Apparently, the German automaker is still a little sore that it lost to its rival stablemate. Says Volkswagen motorsport director, Sven Smeets: “It is about time we settled the score.”

So how do they plan to do it? With the all-electric I.D. R Pikes Peak racer. We don’t know much about it yet, other than that it was built on Volkswagen Auto Group’s new electric MEB platform. Production models are scheduled to enter production on the platform in early 2019. To our eyes, it also looks like VW’s XL1 hypermiler on steroids. But as Smeets explains: “The I.D. R Pikes Peak represents an extremely exciting challenge for us, to show what is possible in motorsport with an electric drivetrain. The entire team behind our driver, Romain Dumas, is highly motivated to set a new record for electric cars.”

To put that into context: The EV record at Pike’s Peak was set in 2016 by Rhys Millen with a time of 8:57.118 minutes.

For a little more context, Millen’s car was an electric eO PP100, which cranked out an incredible 1190 kW (around 1,595 horsepower) and 2520 Nm (around 1,858 pound-feet) of torque. If that’s what Volkswagen is aiming for, it’ll make its old ’87 Golf look downright cute in comparison.

With more EVs entering the race every year, it remains to be seen how successful Volkswagen will be. But with a car this impressive looking, we’ve got a good feeling it’ll put up a hell of a fight.

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James Derek Sapienza has worked as a writer and editor in the world of automotive journalism since 2015.

James has a bachelor's in History from State University of New York at Brockport, with a focus on American popular culture. A fan of  classic cars with a special interest in German automobiles, he is a proud owner of a 1991 W124 Mercedes. James is a frequent contributor to Mustang Forums, MBWorld, 5Series, Rennlist, and more.

James can be reached at [email protected].

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