Hot R-branded EVs are in the pipeline according to top VW executive

EVs are all-too-often considered to be a bit dour and worthy. In some quarters they're still seen as jumped-up milk floats. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth with EVs ripe for producing big power figures and in this vein Volkswagen has confirmed that its R performance brand will be electrified.

Electrified R models are already a thing with the Toureg R now coming only in PHEV form, sporting a 335bhp V6 petrol engine backed up by a 134bhp electric motor. In fact, when the Toureg R was first shown off back at the not-the-Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen stated that all future R models would feature plug-in power. At the time we took that to mean PHEVs for the foreseeable future, but in an interview with Top Gear, VW big-wig Jürgen Stackmann stated that, “the future of R needs to be, and will be, electric.”

Until the PHEV-powered Toureg R, all VW R-branded models were staunchly internal combustion. Most notable among the range has been the insanely popular Golf R, famed for huge performance-per-pound and a propensity for being stolen. With the launch of the electric ID. sub-brand, however, persistent rumours have swirled that Volkswagen would follow-up with ID.R-branded models.

It's no surprise, either, given that VW has been busy taking EV world records with its insane ID.R race car. From the Nürburgring to Pikes Peak, the ID.R has been busy showing what Volkswagen's R performance team is capable of when handed some batteries and a few million quid. VW will have us believe that it's not just a big (and very impressive) PR stunt too, claiming that a decent amount of the battery and powertrain management technology has found its way into the ID.3 road car.

Stackmann says that there's still a way to go: “We're still working on what we started two and a half years ago – which was obviously not electric, though exciting – but the work going forward is and will be electrified.”

The shape of how the R brand's electrification is also still on the table at the moment, with there being potential for yet another sub-brand alongside 'R' to “take on the Teslas of this world” in full EV form. Stackmann said that this particular detail “needs to be seen”.

Another area of VW performance EVs that could sit just below the R branded cars comes in the shape of the ID.4 GTX. A test mule has been spotted on the road in Germany, heavily camouflaged, with some more aggressive styling details notable from what can be seen. In this form, the GTX would clearly be aiming to take on the Ford Mustang Mach-E and would therefore likely have four wheel drive, and a tad more than the 302bhp that is being rumoured for the 'regular' ID.4.

Precedent set within the VW Group

Looking elsewhere within the VW Group and it's clear that there is a concerted movement towards performance EVs. Aside from the record-breaking ID.R, SEAT has been pushing electrified performance through initiatives like its CUPRA e-Racer.

Destined to take part in the ETCR (Electronic Touring Car) racing series which is due to kick off in 2021, the CUPRA e-Racer has been busy in testing since last year under the supervision of SEAT's resident racing driver, Mattias Ekström. Producing 670bhp and hitting 167mph at full chat, the car is part of a new breed of e-racing that will be coming to the fore over the next few years. Furthermore, CUPRA is pursuing PHEVs and EVs for its performance-orientated road cars, so its racing endeavours aren't just for show.

Over at Audi there have been developments in pushing S models into the e-tron line-up, too. In a world-first, the e-tron S will get a tri-motor setup which offers up 489bhp and 717lb-ft in boost mode, giving the S-branded model a significant power and performance advantage over the regular e-tron and e-tron Sportback. In another development rumour, Audi has apparently approached Rimac to help develop an RS e-tron all-electric supercar. Billed as a replacement to the R8, we've not heard much since summer last year, but don't bet against it happening.

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