Trust the gearheads taking part in Pikes Peak to come up with vehicles appearing to be ripped straight off the digital pages of PlayStation. Ford, which has been fielding entrants since the Peak’s first event in 1916, is taking to the hill this year in their SuperVan 4.2, a machine with over 1,400 horsepower.
With the historic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb delayed — but miraculously uncancelled — this year, Acura has decided to showboat its updated TLX sedan. While the Type S everyone wants to see take a whack at the course will sit out the competition to serve as the event’s pace car, two gently modified sedans from the 2021 model year will be on hand to dazzle prospective customers.
They may even perk up a few disenfranchised Acura enthusiasts who’ve strayed from the brand.
The prototype TLX Type S comes with the much discussed 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 (355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque) while the more pedestrian racers come with modified 2.0-liter inline-four engine. Those units would have made 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque unmolested, but Acura has assured us they aren’t factory spec anymore — giving them an air of mystery, albeit slight.
Volkswagen’s I.D. R Pikes Peak all-electric race car made history at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this past weekend, becoming the fastest vehicle ever to tackle the mountain.
The intent was for VW to restore its honor (after leaving the event in shame in the 1980s) and best the EV record set by course veteran Rhys Millen in 2016. But the German automaker’s electrified demon handily smashed that record. With a total time of 7:57.148, the Volkswagen I.D. R has proven its mettle and its driver, Romain Dumas, will be cemented as a Pikes Peak legend on par with Rod Millen and Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima.
The previous unlimited class record had gone untouched since 2013, when Sébastien Loeb throttled his Peugeot 208 T16 across the finish line in a very lean 8:13.878. Unless another manufacturer becomes absolutely hellbent on building the ultimate hill climb car, we expect Volkswagen to hold the record for a while.
Volkswagen went to Pikes Peak this week for the explicit purpose of exacting revenge on the mountain, and it looks as if it may soon achieve it. The company’s I.D. R racer just set the fastest qualifying time. At 3:16.083 minutes, the electric behemoth managed to best every other vehicle qualifying on the 5-mile track track.
In fact, three-time Pikes Peak winner and Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas was 11.049 seconds quicker than the next fastest driver — Simone Faggioli in his internal-combustion Norma M20 SF PKP.
That bodes well for VW, as we already know Norma can build a good car; Dumas used an M20 to win the hill climb in 2014 and 2016. Volkswagen already has the right driver so, assuming the car doesn’t go off pace near the top of the mountain, it’s totally possible the world record could end up going to an electric vehicle.
Electric vehicles have been a sore spot for many motorsport enthusiasts — odd, considering they offer massive performance gains via gobs of instant torque. There’s just something about EVs that keeps them from gaining mass appeal. That said, Formula E is gaining some traction and automakers continue developing high-end electrics in the hopes of turning a profit and paving the way for mainstream models.
Volkswagen Group, which has promised to shift deep into electrification in the coming years, really needs to make these cars appealing. Its I.D. product line for the VW brand has spawned numerous concept vehicles with an emphasis on building positive associations. The Buzz is the most obvious example. Essentially the battery-electric reincarnation of the Microbus, the Buzz aims to help customers see EVs as friendly and fun, while tacking on some nostalgia for good measure.
However, the Buzz doesn’t offer heart-pounding excitement or mind-warping performance, so VW had to build a battery-powered racer. Announced last year, teaser images of the model showed a full-tilt insane vehicle outfitted in hill-climb gear. Volkswagen claims the model will enter into the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for 2018 to take revenge on behalf of a Mk. II Golf from 1987.
Though today’s hybrids have popularized it, the idea of installing more than one engine in a car to supplement power isn’t particularly new or innovative. In fact, it’s almost as old as the automobile itself.
There are plenty of historical examples of multi-engine cars; probably the most notable are absolute land speed record attempts. Just last week, for example, was the 51st anniversary of the American-made Goldenrod’s 409 mph record, set using no less than four 426 Hemi V8s borrowed from Chrysler.
But even further back, Alfa-Romeo had tried to break the stranglehold of the Silver Arrows in Grand Prix racing by utilizing two straight-eights in a P3 Grand Prix chassis. The solution was innovative, if not particularly successful.
But the exploits of sticking multiple motors in a vehicle to boost power and traction were not limited to exotic racers and record setters. In the 1980s, the concept was reintroduced in a few interesting packages. As it became increasingly clear that Audi’s all-wheel drive would revolutionize the world of rally, Volkswagen Motorsport director Klaus-Peter Rosorius felt Volkswagen shouldn’t play second fiddle to the Quattro.
Instead, they’d play with a second engine.
As I wrapped up 2015 last week, I was reminded of my lust for French cars. My look at an inexplicably imported Citroen was the most popular piece I wrote last year, so it’s quite likely there are a few more of you masochists out there.
I also love me some hot hatches. The French know what they are doing with these cars, too, though most would think of the R5 Turbo or perhaps the 205 T16 rally replica rather than a proper front-engine, front drive commuter.
As we’ve reached another arbitrary point in our laps around the sun, we can look at importing a new batch of otherwise-unavailable cars under the 25-year rule.
All-around fast driver and New Zealander Rhys Millen had roughly 20 miles of experience behind the wheel of his Latvian-made eO electric race car before Sunday’s race.
That apparently didn’t matter as he piloted the first electric car to an overall win at the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday.
At the conclusion of this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Mercedes-Benz issued a release claiming a new record: the Mercedes-Benz C250d 4MATIC was the fastest production diesel to ever make it from base camp to summit. Driven by Uwe Nittel, the compression-ignition, tri-star sedan navigated the mountain’s 156 corners in 11 minutes 22 seconds.
Since the manufacturer-favorite Nürburgring has imposed speed restrictions at certain high speed sections and outright banned hot lap record attempts, a new battleground is needed.
Will that frontline be in Colorado?
Since I became a Coloradan a few years back, I’ve joined all the other car freaks in the Mountain Time Zone for the annual pilgrimage to the 30th-tallest mountain in the state for the big race. I shared my photos from the year Monster Tajima broke the 10-minute barrier, and from from the year the course became all-asphalt, and now I’ve got some shots from last weekend’s event.
It’s been a bad week for PSA, but at least they’ve got something to celebrate about. French driver Sebastian Loeb, behind the wheel of a Peugeot 208 T16, broke the record for the fastest time up Pikes Peak, at 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds, beating the old record by 92.286 seconds.
The annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is quickly turning into a Nurburgring equivalent when it comes to bragging rights of electric vehicle makers. The venue is perfect for EVs: The track is 12.42 miles long, as cinch even for the most range-challenged EV. The track finishes at 14,110 ft, a height that deprives ICE-powered cars of oxygen and some 40 percent of their power. An EV just laughs at the breathless engines. I learn all those trivia today in Mitsubishi’s showroom in Tamachi, Tokyo. A descendant on Mitsubishi’s iMiev will be part of the electrified hill climb.
Toyota plans to defend its electric title at this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with a tweaked TMG EV P002. The electric racer is currently on its way to Salisbury, N.C., where TRD USA will perform aerodynamic upgrades to the Radical-based chassis.
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