How do you follow up setting an outright record on the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, one of the world’s oldest and toughest motorsport challenges, with an electric car? For Volkswagen, the answer was easy: set a new electric lap record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Sure enough, Romain Dumas has done just that in the extensively reworked ID R, with his 6min 05.336sec lap obliterating the previous EV record set in 2017 by Peter Dumbreck in the Nio EP9 supercar. The real question is this: how much does that matter?
The Nurburgring, of course, has become the most famous motoring proving ground in the world. Car firms hone their products there, and the quest to set all manner of increasingly obtuse laps records is becoming increasingly daft. Fastest SUV, anyone?
Still, the Nurburgring’s reputation is such that setting a lap record on it needs little further explanation, while Volkswagen has had to educate people in exactly how impressive its Pikes Peak run was.
Frankly, the ID R was always likely to set an electric lap record: it’s the first true, purpose-built, no-compromise electric car to try. While the EP9 was developed as a performance supercar, and has twice the power of the ID R – with four motors producing 1341bhp compared to the Volkswagen’s 671bhp – it is still essentially a production-based car, one capable of running legally on public roads.
The ID R, by contrast, is a purpose-built competition machine developed from the underpinnings of a Le Mans prototype. That means it’s far more nimble and faster in corners, more responsive and more direct.
So if the ID R was always likely to smash the EV lap record, what did it really prove? Well, here’s some context: the ID R’s time of 6 min 05.336sec lap makes it the second fastest machine to ever lap the historic circuit. The only car that has ever gone quicker around the 12.9-mile ribbon of Tarmac is the 1143bhp Porsche 919 Evo – an extensively reworked Le Mans winner that threw out the rulebook before ripping up the record books. There’s no shame in the ID R not getting close to that car’s 5m 19.546sec time.