The Volkswagen ID R is a monster!

The Volkswagen ID R tackles the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
The Volkswagen ID R tackles the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Photo © 2019 BILDAGENTUR KR√§LING

The ID R isn’t your Dad’s golf kart.

I just learned that the Volkswagen ID R electric concept/race car just broke another record. It’s not surprising since the car looks like a cross between a Group C race car and something Daniel Simon could have designed. Truthfully, the car was designed to take the electric car record at the world-world famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb. However, this latest record proves that electric cars are the ultimate evolution of motorsports: The ID R just broke the Nürburgring Nordschleife record for electric cars at 6:05!

To understand exactly how fast that is, first, you have to understand how big the Nordschleife is, and how fast a racecar can go around it. The original “Nordschleife” or “North Loop” was built in the 1920s around the town of Nürburg, in the Eifel mountains. Also nicknamed “The Green Hell”, the Nordschleife is almost 13 miles long, with 73 turns and massive elevation changes. Sports car manufacturers often use the Nordschleife to develop their cars, and it’s not uncommon for a car maker to boast about its cars’ lap times.

The Volkswagen ID R successfully makes a run. Photo © 2019 Volkswagen Motorsport

How fast is six minutes and 5 seconds?

A “fast” car can make the loop at around 8 minutes. The Alfa Romeo 4C did 8:04 back in 2013. A “very fast” car like the Ferrari 458 Italia can do it by roughly 7:30. An “extremely fast” car like the Lamborghini Aventador 770-4 SVJ can do it in under seven minutes. These are just production cars though, and the Volkswagen ID R is clearly not a production car.

The previous record holder for the fastest electric car was the Nio EP9, which made 1000 kilowatts or 1,361 horsepower equivalent. The EP9 was only a shade slower than the Lamborghini Aventador 770-4 SVJ at 6:45, which we already knew was “extremely fast.”

The Volkswagen ID R did it 40 seconds faster than a 1,300 horsepower electric car. That is insanely fast!

What’s more surprising is the fact that the ID R makes less power than the previous record holder. It “only” makes around 700 horsepower, but the car has an incredibly lightweight body weighing only 1,100 kilograms or 2,500 pounds. In addition, the ID R sports a very low-drag and high-downforce body, meaning that the car could take the Nordschleife’s 73 turns at a much higher speed.

Just imagine; in a few years, electric race cars like the ID R will be making insane lap times at our favorite tracks like the Circuit de la Sarthe, or even WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca!

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What if GM Made the Mid-Engined Corvette in the ’80s?

The XP-882, a Mid-Engined Corvette prototype

Yes, there was more than one Mid-Engined Corvette…

Yesterday, I wrote about the latest mid-engined Corvette sighting and commented on how quiet the engine sounded. It’s surprising to learn that this wasn’t the first time General Motors came close to making a mid-engined Corvette. The person responsible for this concept was none other than the man who helped conceive the Corvette; Zora Arkus-Duntov. Inspired by the mid-engined race cars in Formula 1, Duntov believed that the future was mid-engined cars. In 1960, Duntov started the Corporate Experimental Research Vehicle program (CERV) and created several vehicles with blistering performance thanks to their powerful, mid-mounted small block engines. It’s these early efforts with the CERV program that eventually leads to my favorite mid-engined Corvette prototype.

  • The CERV I
  • The CERV II

For the 1970 New York Auto Show, Chevrolet debuted the XP-882; an all-wheel-drive mid-engined “corvette prototype” that featured a small block 350 cubic inch V8 mated to an Oldsmobile Toronado transaxle. Despite mid-engined cars being very popular at the show, Chevrolet president John Z. Delorean (yes, that Delorean) decided that the XP-882 would be too difficult and expensive to produce. The XP-882 would later return, however, as a completely new and radical approach to making the mid-engined Corvette.

In an effort to cut costs and explore new technology, Delorean authorized the creation of the XP-895. Based on the XP-882, the new car featured a sleek new body made of aluminum supplied by Reynolds. It was under its shiny new skin though that was completely radical: a 4-rotor Wankel Engine.

  • XP-882
  • The Aerovette

The Aerovette

At the time, Chevrolet was experimenting with rotary engines, which promised better performance and fuel economy in a smaller package. Delorean had Duntov and his team take two 2-rotor engines and mate them together to make the 420hp 4-rotor engine. Along with the 2-rotor XP-897GT prototype, GM was getting closer to creating the quintessential mid-engined Corvette.

But, in 1973 the global oil crisis killed GM’s foray into rotary engines. Chevrolet did away with the 4-rotor engine and shoved a 350ci LT-1motor into the quicksilver chassis. This final iteration of Duntov’s mid-engined dream was called the Aerovette. Although the Aerovette was basically a remade XP-895, there was no doubt that this would have been the Mid-Engined Corvette. With Duntov’s vision of a mid-engined Corvette nearly complete, GM promised that the Aerovette would be in production by 1980.

Sadly, this was not to be. First, several key executives behind the Aerovette program, including Bill Mitchell and Ed Cole, retired. Then, the new company president David R. McLellan decided that the Aerovette program was not economically viable. His justification was mid-engined cars sold poorly compared to cars like the Datsun 240Z. The decision was unfortunately made to ax the gull-winged wonder. Chevrolet wouldn’t make more mid-engined concepts until the Corvette Indy and the CERV III.

It’s almost a crime that this car didn’t get made. 2016 © Car Design News

What if GM didn’t kill the Aerovette?

Imagine for a moment that the Aerovette went into production just before the ’80s. What would the vehicle landscape look like then? Would I have grown up with a poster of the Aerovette next to my Lamborghini Countach and Diablo posters?

If General Motors actually put the Aerovette into production, then I think it actually would have been a failure. When GM was in talks for producing the Aerovette, it would have cost somewhere between $15,000 and $18,000 to buy. By comparison, the 1980 Corvette cost just under $15,000, so sales of the original car would have cannibalized the Aerovette’s.

There was also the issue with the new emissions restrictions placed on the Corvette. The early ’80s Corvettes were known for being woefully underpowered as their LT-1 engines were choked to meet emissions standards. A similar engine in the Aerovette would have effectively neutered the car. Additionally, the early Pontiac Fiero would have made almost as much power and less cost to the driver. The Aerovette then would have effectively killed any further developments for an American mid-engined sports car. Ultimately, this would mean that we wouldn’t be talking about the new C8 Corvette Supercar today.

In the end, despite how cool the earlier mid-engined Corvette prototypes were, timing is everything. If GM hadn’t canceled the CERV II, then we might have seen a production mid-engined Chevrolet by the late ’60s. We might have been able to see a mid-engined Corvette finishing Le Mans with the Ford GT40!

One thing is for sure: the new Mid-Engined Corvette is going to have to live up to the hype.

Photo © 2016 Car Design News

The Mid-Engined Corvette is quieter than I thought

It’s…quiet.

We’re just over a month away from the official unveiling of the Mid-Engined Corvette! That hasn’t stopped speculation on this new supercar though. Youtuber Adam Hamade caught a glimpse of the prototype running through his town where he compares it to a McLaren or a Ferrari as accelerates out of sight.

It’s a great sighting, but I’m very surprised by how quiet it is. Usually, a Corvette sounds like someone electrocuting a bear behind a closed door. The prototype is very quiet though. It’s almost as if GM is muting the exhaust. Either they’re disguising the engine note, or this prototype has the supposed brand-new engine with a flat-plane crankshaft.

Whichever the case may be, I’m excited to see that GM is finally making a mid-engined Corvette! Now if only they can bring back the Opel GT!