Pair of rally-ready Beetles also brought into action at GP Ice Race in Austria.

Autocar UK, By James Attwood


© Image credited by Haymarket Media Group | Electric Volkswagen Golf R concept makes debut as an ice racer


Volkswagen will showcase a fully electric four-wheel-drive Golf R concept car, showcasing the technology that will underpin future electric cars from the R performance brand, at the GP Ice Race event in Austria this weekend.
The machine will be one of a number of motorsport-based machines Volkswagen is running in the showcase event, which takes place around an ice circuit on a frozen airfield in Zell am See. But while other machines include the record-breaking ID R Hillclimb machine and a number of Beetles, the Golf R concept is described by VW motorsport boss Sven Smeets after offering “a view of the future”.
No technical details of the concept have yet been released, with Volkswagen simply saying that it “serves as an ambassador for future performance cars for Volkswagen R”. 
The car appears to be a Golf TCR touring car shell, albeit fitted with a new electric four-wheel-drive system. VW previously developed the powertrain for the 671bhp twin-motor ID R Hillclimb car by running it in a Golf TCR, and it's possible that this is an updated version of that machine. It is also unlikely that any electric performance powertrain will make it into either production or competition car in a Golf, with VW focusing on its ID line for fully electric vehicles.
Volkswagen has committed to only running full-electric motorsport projects in the future, including the continuation of the ID R project. That machine has already set new outright or electric records at Pikes Peak, the Nürburgring, Goodwood and China’s Tianmen Mountain.
Alongside that, VW has phased out support for the Golf TCR tin-top and committed to running customer electric motorsport programs based around the new MEB electric chassis, used for the upcoming line of ID machines. VW technical chief Frank Welsch previously said that “the MEB will in future be the second, production-related pillar in Volkswagen’s motorsport program”.
It is thought that the concept car at the GP Ice Race will preview the potential drivetrain for a future ID 3-based electric touring car, which could be run in the forthcoming E-TCR electric category. The powertrain could also then be adopted for a mooted line of ID R high-performance road cars, which the firm is currently evaluating.
Volkswagen’s first step into hot electric road cars is set to come with the ID 4 GTX, which is set to be unveiled alongside the regular version of the electric SUV later this year.
Not every car Volkswagen will demo at the GP Ice Race this weekend looks to the future. The firm is also showcasing a historic 1302 S ‘Salzburg’ Beetle and the American rallycross title-winning Beetle R.
Bentley will also feature at the event, running a Continental GT W12 ice racer.
This article was originally published in Autocar UK.
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