Is the track losing its relevance to vehicle development?

How important is the Nürburgring? To enthusiasts, the lap times automakers set there are ammunition for online rants and raves – an easy number to whip out in the heat of an online argument. To automakers? Well, it depends on which ones you ask, and if you ask Volkswagen, you might be surprised by the answer. The latest Autocar Confessionals from the British motoring mag has VW’s tech chief Matthias Rabe throwing some shade at the iconic track.      

In the confessional, Autocar writes that Rabe believes the circuit’s reputation is exaggerated. “It’s not the Nürburgring itself, it’s to sort the best balance on both the circuit and the nice country roads leading to it,” Rabe told the publication. He added that VW developed the new Golf GTI to be pleasant to drive at the track and on the way home.

Less than four years ago, VW had a different attitude about the track. That’s when the company took its Golf GTI Clubsport S to break its own record for a production front-wheel-drive car. It completed a lap in 7 minutes and 47.19 seconds.

While Rabe may not hold Nürburgring in high regard, the track still plays an important part in vehicle development. Automakers and suppliers from around the world continue to flock to the track to test and develop new technologies and vehicles. And VW is no stranger there, either. Video from last week showed VW at the track during the track’s Industry Pool period with the new Golf GTI lapping the track with the likes of Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, and others.

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The track will remain a mecca for automakers, suppliers, racers, and enthusiasts for the foreseeable future. Not even the coronavirus pandemic has quieted the green hills that surround the track, and while it may be losing a bit of its relevance, it still has a vibrant history and bright future.

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