This Rugged Volkswagen Made Out Of Scraps Looks Ready To Conquer Any Off-Road Challenge

It's clear that electric vehicles are picking up speed in the passenger vehicle market, and they generally have a lot to offer. Between the excellent acceleration, driver aids, and the impressive tech stuffed into them, electric vehicles offer a compelling experience for most drivers. What we haven't seen much of is commercially available electric off-roaders. 

Just as with regular road-going vehicles, off-road EVs are an interesting prospect thanks to how electric motors can send power to the wheels. Instead of a complicated set of transfer cases, driveshafts, locking differentials, and low-range gearboxes, a two-, three-, or four-motor EV can regulate the amount of power put down at each individual wheel as if by magic. Of course, it's not magic, and the success of an off-road EV will depend entirely on the electronically-regulated four-wheel-drive system. These four-wheel-drive systems are perfectly exemplified in vehicles like the GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and Rivian R1S, all of which perform admirably over rough terrain. 

While off-road-oriented EVs are not particularly common, AWD EVs — designed more for wet-weather driving than hardcore off-roading — are practically a dime a dozen, with basically all EV manufacturers offering some AWD variant. Volkswagen is one such manufacturer, and in September 2022, it revealed a project that used the scraps of an ID.4 GTX 4MOTION test vehicle to build an impressive off-roader. 

The ID.XTREME is the ID.4 we deserve but cannot buy

Considering Volkswagen is a massive, global corporation, the ID. XTREME gives off serious project-car energy, with 3D-printed bodywork adding visual flair, and the words "Made with passion and friends," laser cut backwards into the roof rack so that it reads correctly from inside the cabin. 

The ID. XTREME was built using the components from a retired ID.4 GTX test vehicle, with the aim of being a sustainably-developed concept vehicle. It uses a 77 kWh, second-life battery, and produces 30% more power than the ID.4 GTX it is based on, coming out at a total of 382 HP thanks to the upgrade to a performance motor in the rear. As far as the off-road capabilities go, it's not quite as capable as something like the Hummer EV, because the front motor only produces 107 HP, while the other 275 HP is sent to the rear, resulting in roughly a 30-70 split between the front and rear axles. What it does do, though, is make for a compelling rally vehicle for a bit of off-road fun. 

A rally-spec ID.4

The ID. XTREME was built by a team led by VW's Head of MEB Complete Vehicle, Andreas Reckewerth as a demonstration of VW's modular electric drive matrix. It's intended as a demonstration of performance, flexibility, and driving pleasure that can be extracted from the platform. As such, the ID. XTREME goes from 0-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, while the always-on 4x4 system gives it grip in a variety of terrain, and allows for some spirited driving when the situation calls for it. 

It's clear the ID. XTREME was a passion project for the engineering team. The custom paint-job is hand-finished with "mud" speckling, and the wheel arch extensions are 3D-printed to cover the extra width of the 18-inch off-road wheels and tires. The vehicle is just over an inch taller than its stock counterpart, and has a 1.57-inch wider stance, increasing stability in all conditions. 

As Auto Express reveals in its review, the ID. XTREME delivers power smoothly and without wheelspin, a boon for off-road work, and a testament to the team's attention to detail. Auto Express also reports that the steering is direct and precise, while the powerful rear motor allows the driver to play around with rear-wheel traction — or loss thereof — at will. Unfortunately, the ID. XTREME will not hit the road as-is, but the engineering team behind it says that part of the exercise was meant to "gauge customer feedback," so hopefully some aspects of the vehicle trickle down to VW's production lineup.