The Volkswagen Golf eR1, which made its public debut at last weekend’s GP Ice Race event in Austria, is already a key part of the firm’s electric performance heritage - but it’s also a showcase for future possibilities.
From the outside, the machine looks like a lightly modified Golf TCR touring car. But under its surface lurks the electric powertrain technology that has allowed Volkswagen to set a string of records, and that's being honed for use in a planned line of hot ID variants from the firm’s R performance division. These will sit above the ID GTX range, the first of which will be seen later this year.
Autocar was among a select group of media invited for a short passenger ride in the eR1, on the airfield-based ice track used for the GP Ice Race festival in Zell am See.
What is the Volkswagen Golf eR1?
The eR1 started life as a test mule for the 671bhp twin motor, all-wheel-drive electric powertrain that propelled the Volkswagen ID R hillclimb car to course records at Pikes Peak, the Nurburgring, Goodwood and China’s Tianmen mountain. To test the powertrain while the ID R’s endurance prototype-based chassis was completed ahead of the car’s launch in 2018, Volkswagen Motorsport installed it into a modified Golf TCR touring car bedecked in a development camouflage livery.
Once the ID R was launched in the build-up to the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, the electric test mule might have been consigned to history – but it’s now been dusted off, updated and repurposed.
Volkswagen will use the machine to showcase its electric performance technology through a series of event appearances and videos, as well as to test and develop systems that could be used for future electric R car powertrains.
What’s the Volkswagen Golf eR1 like?
For what is effectively a motorsport test hack, the eR1 is remarkably well-resolved. That’s helped by its new designation (eR1 is more catchy than the test mule's moniker of 'e-technology test car') and fresh livery, but comes mostly down to the team's hard work at refining and upgrading the machine since its former role.