Volkswagen XL1 revealed

6 Mar, 2013 1:09pm Luke Madden

Volkswagen has revealed the 314mpg XL1 two-seater, and it's set for limited production later this year

Volkswagen has revealed the production version of the XL1 diesel-electric hybrid; a car that Volkswagen claims can travel more than 62 miles on one litre of diesel – or £1.45-worth at the current average price.

The lightweight two-seater has previously been revealed in concept form, claiming similarly staggering figures, but now Volkswagen has confirmed the final fuel economy and emissions numbers to be 314mpg and 21g/km of CO2.

The impressive efficiency is down to its low kerbweight, aerodynamic design and frugal powertrain. The XL1 weighs 795kg because it has a body made mostly of carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and an ultra-thin glass windscreen. The body itself weighs just 230kgs.

Lightweight doesn't mean flimsy, though, with the carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic providing a high-strength survival space in the case of a crash. Front and rear aluminium structures are present to absorb most of the crash energy and the gullwing doors are fitted with explosive bolts so drivers can get out if the car flips upside down.

The XL1 is powered by an 800cc two-cylinder diesel engine with 47bhp and a 27bhp electric motor, delivering power to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. In electric-only mode the XL1 can travel around 30 miles on a single charge. When driven in diesel-only mode at normal motorway speeds VW claims it can average around 130-140mpg – or about 250 miles on one 10-litre tank full.

With a long, low and narrow design the XL1 claims a drag coefficient of just 0.189. That’s better than the Prius, which claims 0.25Cd. It’s achieved through having skinny tyres and e-mirrors mounted in the doors rather than traditional wing mirrors. These project virtual images on to screens in the cabin, so the driver can see behind them.

Inside the cabin, the driver and passenger sit next to each other, with one seat mounted slightly behind the other. The dash is simply laid-out and borrows from other models in the Volkswagen line-up. There is a 120-litre boot at the back, too.

There’s no word on price just yet but Auto Express was told it will almost certainly be sold as a lease car, rather than outright. Annual production is estimated to be between 50 and 5,000 models and the UK has provisionally requested 50 XL1s.


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It looks like sh!t! getting progressively worse from front to rear. Covering the rear wheels is never a good look.

Pretty interesting car. The amount of weight they've managed to shed is staggering. Yes, it might look a bit odd compared to mainstream cars (which are a few decades out of date already anyway) but the advantages outweigh that. I think it's a good idea to keep it as a lease model at first. Despite its merits this car is too outlandish for car buyers who lean towards conservative, although I wonder why. It is 2013 after all.

This is a stupid comment. ALL cars will need to start looking like this VW if you want fuel prices to come down!

Reminds me very much of the 1st gen. Honda Insight from 14 years ago, only 43kg lighter and 6 less combined hp, better cd by 0.06.

I think the real world fuel consumption will be more like 2l/100km(62 miles), given the way it is measured (drive cycle recognition).

+1! The days of cynical use of the earth ang egoistical preferenses must be over. A car is firstly made for transport between a to b. The rest is vanity.

I drive an Insight every day. Only about 65-75 mpg though. If I could drop the CD it would get much better. The mpg of the XL1 is staggering.
Honda said that the Insight actually should have costed about $50k to sell at the time.

Volkswagen now could make the XL1 out of aluminum and save tons of money

Huh? I think it is you who has made the dumb comment, what do fuel prices have to do with a cars looks?!

Wait till they reveal the price. It'll make our pockets much lighter. I've heard talk of £50k or over!
I agree with Riemenschneider though. XL1 does bear a resemblance to 1999 Honda Insight.

On autospeed dot com there are a few articles about improving on the gen 1 Insight by doing simple mods. Both for cd, as well as intake pressure drop and making it stay in lean burn mode for a longer time. Just search "Insight" on their site.

If I stripped half the interior out of my 1982 Metro and put a 10 litre tank on it (saving 25 litres in weight) I think I'd probably get around 80 mpg - real world. I already get close to 50 and it's an Automatic. This is ludicrous. Why aren't cars genuinely more efficient than they were years ago?

XL1 is cool man hehe

These may be official pictures, but I suspect the thing will look different in production form, will have a higher drag factor due to normal wing mirrors, and the claimed economy will be unachievable unless driven unrealistically, the cost will be ridiculous, end the two pot engine will be as rough as a dog, if this is the future of motoring - count me out. p.s IT ISNT.

At what cost??? How much new to buy car ???

A lot of people have compared the XL1 to the Insight. Although they share certain traits they are actually pretty different in the flesh. The XL1 is much lower/smaller - comparable in volume to an Elise. Its construction has more in common with a supercar than an average grocery getter. It is also an extreme exercise in how far technology can be pushed to a particular gain so of course there will be compromises in everyday usability and cost. If you need an everyday, usable car you could check out the rest of VWs range. The pictures you see are 100% the production vehicle (although limited in number at this time)