UPDATE: Check out new live images of the Atlas Cross Sport R from the floor of the LA Auto Show.
Volkswagen is going off-roading. We’ve become used to seeing cool Baja Beetles dancing through the desert, but this time around the task falls to VW’s newest SUV and well, it looks interesting. Actually, with that Pennywise-meets-Gillette grille it looks downright spooky, but it also looks properly ready to attack the Baja 1000, which it will do next year.
“Racing as a sport has historically been limited to a very privileged group,” said Saad Chehab, senior vice president of VW brand marketing. “However, Volkswagens competed at the very beginning of Baja racing, and we’re excited to help keep the fun, youthful spirit of the competition alive by way of our Atlas Cross Sport R.”
Gallery: VW Atlas Cross Sport R
Clearly this is isn’t a run-of-the-mill Atlas Cross Sport. There’s still a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood, but it’s tuned to develop a monumental 480 horsepower (358 kilowatts) in what VW says is a “balance of performance and reliability.” The same engine is actually capable of producing 600 hp (447 kW), though VW does state that this Atlas Cross R is technically a concept that’s still undergoing testing. In other words, power could ultimately be more or less than 480, but it’s an impressive mill any way you slice it.
Since this Baja SUV is still in-development, VW doesn’t offer other details on its construction. Obviously it’s built from the ground-up to be a hardcore racer as opposed to a converted production model. It will be the first four-wheel-drive machine to race in Baja Class 7 competition. Noted Rallycross champion and former Top Gear America host Tanner Foust will be one of the drivers.
VW says details of the competition will be released early in 2020.
VOLKSWAGEN WILL ENTER 2020 SCORE BAJA 1000 WITH THE ATLAS CROSS SPORT R
- Volkswagen goes back to its motorsports roots on the classic off-road race in Mexico
- Class 7 racer to be driven by VW rallycross champion and brand ambassador Tanner Foust
Herndon, VA — Volkswagen will return to the prestigious off-road race next year, entering an Atlas Cross Sport R race truck in Class 7 Open Production Unlimited. Unveiled today at the LA Auto Show, the prototype race truck is the first look at the vehicle that will compete in the SCORE Baja 1000 next November.
“Racing as a sport has historically been limited to a very privileged group,” said Saad Chehab, Senior Vice President, VW Brand Marketing. “However, Volkswagens competed at the very beginning of Baja racing, and we’re excited to help keep the fun, youthful spirit of the competition alive by way of our Atlas Cross Sport R.”
Developed in conjunction with VW driver Tanner Foust and Baja race veteran Rhys Millen, the Atlas Cross Sport R will be the first four-wheel-drive vehicle to enter Baja Class 7 competition. Power will be distributed to the wheels from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, first developed by Volkswagen Motorsport for use in its WRC and Rallycross programs. Capable of running up to 600 horsepower—or 300 hp per liter—the engine will be detuned to roughly 480 horsepower for an optimized balance of performance and reliability. Currently in concept form, the vehicle is being tested for further development and finalization before the 2020 race.
Fresh off his victory as 2019 ARX Rallycross champion, Tanner Foust helped introduce the Atlas Cross Sport R during Volkswagen’s LA Auto Show press conference. Foust, who will also be one of the drivers, said: “I know what this combination of engine and drivetrain is capable of. I’m really excited to see this bit of Beetle DNA live on in the Atlas Cross Sport R and am itching to get behind the wheel.”
Driving the “people’s racing event” spirit of the Baja a step further, Volkswagen will invite designers from schools and colleges nationwide to participate in the design of the Atlas Cross Sport R’s race livery. Full details on the competition will be released in early 2020.
Even though a race program might seem to stray away from Volkswagen’s commitment to the environment and meeting the goals of the 2050 Paris Climate Accord, the Baja program will be fully carbon neutral thanks to a carbon offset initiative via The Conservation Fund. This will plant more than 1,000 trees, or one per mile raced.