Today, VW has announced that you’ll be able to buy your own XL1. And while we’ll admit this little car doesn’t fit entirely with the PH ‘Speed Matters’ maxim, it is nevertheless a stupendously clever car, and worthy of our attention as such. It’ll be a plug-in hybrid, driven by a two-cylinder turbodiesel that’ll produce 48hp, as well as a 27hp electric motor, both of which will be allied to a seven-speed DSG gearbox. Super-smooth aerodynamics will result in a drag coefficient of just 0.189, and combined with low weight (795kg) and height (just 1.2 metres), they’ll contribute to a staggering 314mpg fuel economy figure. Enough, in other words, to get you from Land’s End to John O’Groats on around £17-worth of fuel.
No word has yet been given on how much the XL1 will cost, nor when (or, indeed, whether) we’ll see it on sale in the UK. But VW has confirmed that the new car will be hand-built at its Osnabruck facility, so expect to see a limited production run and a not-inconsiderable asking price.
Honda Insight wore the same tapered profile and covered rear wheels, for obvious aerodynamic reasons. And they still look just as outlandish today, which means they’re developing something of a cult following. So if you like the look of the XL1, but don’t have the cash it’s likely to cost (and, we hasten to add, aren’t looking for over 300mpg), you can still ‘own the look’ for significantly less. Here’s one, for example, going for just over £6,000 – which seems a trifle steep, but it has only done 45,000 miles. Or if not, how’s about this one? It isn’t cosmetically brilliant, but if nobody else bids it could be yours for £1,700.