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Petrolhead Chris Harris Says EVs Will Be “Fastest Cars The World Has Ever Seen”

Well known auto journalist and Top Gear presenter Chris Harris has said that the EV revolution will produce the “Fastest cars the world has ever seen” after track-testing the VW I.D. R race car.

Well known auto journalist and Top Gear presenter Chris Harris has said that the EV revolution will produce the “Fastest cars the world has ever seen” after track-testing the VW I.D. R race car.

The comments were made in an interview with the Press Association, released after the latest BBC Top Gear episode. Chris had just driven the mind-blowing VW I.D. R around Portugal’s Portimao circuit for a few laps, a portion of which was previewed in the YouTube video above.

Chris gave us some hints about his love of EV performance last year, when reviewing the Tesla Model 3 on Top Gear. More recently, he tested the Porsche Taycan, also strongly approving of the performance on offer.

In this latest EV test drive, Chris said that the I.D. R is “The fastest car I’ve ever driven, bar non… I’ve never felt anything like it… it is a whole new division of fast.” That’s high praise, since Chris is an experienced racing driver who has also driven F1 cars and the Le Mans-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid.

VW I.D. R.VW I.D. R. Image Courtesy: VW Press Images

The specs of the VW I.D. R include 0-60 mph in 2 seconds (faster than an F1 car), and 0-120 mph in 5 seconds, helped along by 500 kW of power and weighing under 1,100 kg (with driver). Capable of braking at 5G, and with aerodynamics generating over 1000 kg of downforce, “this thing grips so hard that test drivers have blacked out,” he said. He also later revealed in the Press Association interview that it took him a few days to recover from the test drive.

Chris notes that the I.D. R is tuned for short races, specifically its original mission to dominate the 12-mile Pike’s Peak Hill Climb (where its 2018 run still holds the record). It will be a long time before EV racers have sufficient on-board energy to compete in long-distance endurance races, which are currently dominated by combustion-electric hybrids. The setup Chris drove at the Portimao circuit was also limited to 150 mph top speed, so he was ‘only’ able to set the 4th fastest ever lap time. Not too shabby.

Auto manufacturers are aware of the performance advantages of EVs, and upcoming extreme performance cars are planned by the likes of Lotus, Nio, Pagani, Pininfarina, Rimac, and Tesla. Like the I.D. R, many of these are targeting 0-60 mph acceleration in 2 seconds or less, something that combustion-engine series production cars have never been able to offer. The mechanical and thermal stress of squeezing this kind of performance from combustion powertrains makes manufacturer warranties impractical, and tightening emissions regulations increasingly make this kind of power from combustion untenable.

Whilst extreme performance like this obviously has no direct relevance for the vast majority of vehicle owners and users, there is nevertheless a strong symbolic effect which will speed the broad appreciation of electric powertrains in the eyes of motorsport fans and petrolheads. This in turn will have positive knock on effects for the enthusiasm around EVs in more attainable sports car segments, and down through more affordable offerings in the broader auto market.

 

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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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