Super Fuel-Efficient VW XL1 Readies for Limited Production Run

Sections: Fuel Economy

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Volkswagen has announced its XL1 concept, which is touted as capable of achieving a 261 MPG combined fuel efficiency score, will be built in limited quantities.

Press Image of the Volkswagen XL1

This is the Volkswagen you’ve been hearing gets 261 MPG. It seats only two, and is smaller than the previous smallest VW, the Polo. It is powered by a two-cylinder diesel engine and a hybrid powertrain. And VW is actually going to build it. (Photo courtesy VW Media Services.)

According to a press release from VW, XL1 is powered by a 1-liter, two-cylinder TDI diesel engine that serves as the heart of a hybrid system that includes an electric motor, lithium ion battery pack, and 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

The diesel engine makes 46 horsepower, while the electric motor is good for a maximum of 26 horsepower. Combined, that’s just 72 horses to motivate the XL1. While that’s not much power, consider the car only weighs just 1,753 lbs, is roughly three inches shorter than VW’s Polo microcar, has an overall height of just under four feet, and has an ultra-slick 0.189 coefficient of drag, crushing even the aerodynamics of the Lexus GS F-SPORT we tested— which itself beats the aerodynamic efficiency of stalwart hybrids like the Toyota Prius. That said, we believe VW when it claims the XL1 will be the most aerodynamic car ever produced. With that kind of ultra light, ultra sleek, ultra small footprint, raw power isn’t the name of the game. Thanks to its efficient chassis design, the XL1 can motor down flat roadway using just 8.3 horsepower, VW says.

VW says the car manages 0.9 liters of fuel consumed per 100 kilometers driven on the European combined city/highway cycle. That equates to 261.35 MPG. As a plug-in hybrid, it also has the ability to drive without the services of the diminutive diesel engine for up to 31 miles, according to the automaker. Lest VW produce such an efficiency-minded car only to have it labeled a traffic hazard, the car boasts decent acceleration characteristics, as well, taking just 12.7 seconds to reach 62 MPH (100 kilometers per hour). While it won’t set any acceleration records, there are plenty of older economy cars– and some newer ones– that can’t do better than that.

The XL1 will be built at VW’s Onsabruck plant in Germany using what the automaker called “handcrafting-like production methods.” As such, we’d expect the production numbers to remain fairly low. The big question now is how much it’ll cost, and whether it will come to America. For now, the answers are (1) we don’t know, and (2) we hope so!

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