The VW I.D R has set another record | Top Gear
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Wednesday 4th October

The VW I.D R has set another record

Newly red 670bhp, 1,100kg e-rocket has torpedoed up a very wiggly road in China

Published: 02 Sep 2019

In case you haven’t noticed, VW has been on a worldwide record-breaking rampage with its potty, 670bhp, all-electric I.D R race car. To date, it’s snagged records for the legendary Pikes Peak hill climb, the fastest time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as the electric record on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. We’ve even had a go… and nearly blacked-out. But this morning, the 1,100kg e-rocket set the record for the fastest time up The Tianmen Shan Big Gate Road in China conquering the assent in 7mins 38.585secs. 

Given that no one had set a time up the incredibly wiggly – and picturesque – 6.776-mile, 99-turn road (which snakes up Tianmen Mountain near Zhangjiajie in China’s Hunan Province), Romain Dumas was effectively racing himself. Still, it's fast. Really fast. You may remember that a 400bhp, petrol-electric RR Sport P400e driven by Jaguar Formula E reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung, completed a similar course last year in 9min 51 secs. But he also decided to drive up the 45-degree incline and 999 steps up to Heaven’s Gate (a 131.5-metre natural arch and banging Instagram opportunity) afterwards. Disappointingly, Dumas didn’t think about giving that a go. Maybe next time.

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“I will certainly remember this record run on Tianmen Mountain forever as my most spectacular outing,” Dumas said. “The little information and testing we had beforehand made it a huge challenge. The road is incredibly narrow and winding, but the drive was unbelievable fun with the electric power of the ID.R. The huge torque was a big advantage on the short straights, while the aerodynamics provided additional traction in the fast sections.”

As anyone who grew up on a diet of 80s TV will know, dedication, that’s what you need to be a record-breaker. It also helps to be one of the world’s largest car companies. One that has a fat budget to splurge on an electric marketing message and some of the brainiest brains to make the fastest electric car on the planet. And that’s exactly what this record was about. Excuse us while we don our cynical hat for a second, but this was just a giant ID.R marketing stunt (like most motorsport activities, remember): the electric racer will serve as the first ambassador of VW’s fully-electric ID range. A market that VW is keen on penetrating, mainly because it’s the world’s largest EV market – hence the China-friendly red paint scheme. See, red denotes good luck and happiness. It could now also denote fast.

Now, what record should the I.D R hunt down next? Lap of the M25? School run? Let us know below.

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