Volkswagen used its former World Touring Car Championship entry, the combustion-engined Golf TCR, as a platform to test the electric drivetrain in the hardcore ID.R electric race car that debuted in 2018. It's possible the German automaker has brought that prototype out of the shadows as the e-Performance Golf R concept, shown ahead of this weekend's ice races in Zell am See, Austria. The company hasn't released any specs yet, so we can't be sure how much of the ID.R's twin-motor, 671-horsepower electric drivetrain is at work in the e-Performance Golf R. Execs have been talking up what the first EV to get the R badge means, though. Motorsport honcho Sven Smeets said of the VW electric cars on show over the weekend will "offer a view of the future,” the automaker claiming the sporty EV "serves as an ambassador for future performance cars for Volkswagen R."
From the side, the concept looks no different to the Golf GTI TCR; same jutting front splitter and intake strakes, same punched-out wheel arches and wide wing hanging well off the back. Even the roll cage and lightweight, twin-spoke wheels have carried over. At some point during the weekend, those tires will need to be swapped out for dedicated ice-racing hoops fitted with about 400, seven-millimeter studs called Sweden Spikes.
A VW board member has already said, "If there is a future for R it must be electric," and theories abound as to how the e-Performance Golf R will translate into a series-specific electric race car. Consensus for the moment is that whatever comes won't have the Golf name attached, since the ID brand carries the torch for VW's EV aspirations. An ID.R has been mooted, but isn't expected to show before 2024. Before then, suggestions are that VW could run a prototype ID.3 in the coming electric touring car championship where Seat has committed a four-motor, 670-hp E-Cupra, or work up an ID.4 to contest next year's Extreme E off-road series. There will also be support for customer teams racing MEB-based cars.
The brand promises to tell us more this weekend during what it might consider an in-house event. Winter racing at Zell am See ran for almost 40 years in the 20th century, then ended in 1974. Ferdinand Porsche, the grandson of Porsche's founder, also named Ferdinand Porsche, led a group that restarted the ice racing weekend last year. Along with the e-Performance Golf R concept, VW will also have an ID.R on display, and will enter a T-Roc R, the vintage 1302 S “Salzburg” Beetle rally car, and a Beetle R that won the U.S. Rallycross championship five times in a row, while Bentley will be there showing off its new Continental GT W12 ice racer.