VW confirms XL1 production


Volkswagen has confirmed that its mad hyper-economy XL1 coupe will go into production.

Aerodynamics are key. Looks cool, though
Aerodynamics are key. Looks cool, though
The two-seater was first previewed by Dr Ferdinand Piech way back in April 2002 at a VW shareholders’ meeting as the 1L, so named for its capacity to achieve fuel economy levels below 1l/100km (or above 282mpg, in real money). Since then, the 1L been transformed into the more production-friendly XL1, which loses the concept’s bubble roof to a more conventional coupe roofline, but retains the tapered profile and near-fully-enclosed rear wheels – as well, of course, as the remarkable fuel consumption.

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.

Standard-ish cabin makes XL1 usable
Standard-ish cabin makes XL1 usable
You won’t have to travel too slowly while you’re getting there, either, as the XL1 will manage the 62mph benchmark in 12.7 seconds. OK, that’s not exactly fast, but it’s not unusable, either. It’ll also crack 100mph – just – giving it the ability to cruise at motorway speeds without too much trouble. Unlike the 1L, which seated its occupants in tandem, the XL1 will also feature a near-normal seating arrangement, albeit with the passenger slightly rearward of the driver to assist with packaging.

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.

We've seen that look before somewhere...
We've seen that look before somewhere...
Hmmm... now, what does the XL1 remind us of? Oh yes, that’s right – the first-gen 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.





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Comments (204) Join the discussion on the forum

  • kambites 26 Feb 2013

    emicen said:
    Used solely as a motorway or higher speed commute car I would contest the Prius being at all better than a regular (albeit diesel) car of similar size.
    In my experience they're very similar - for similar performance and size you'll get somewhere around 60-80mpg on the motorway out of either depending on how fast you drive.

  • kambites 26 Feb 2013

    ctallchris said:
    kambites said:
    It might be an entirely new market segment if Honda hadn't done it in the 90s with the Insight.
    While the insight is a good car in terms of efficeincy on a motorway the insight isnt in the same league. The low roofline keeps the frontal area of the xl1 much lower (nearly half the CdA). Focussing utterly on this and ignoring the features and practicalities of the city car "Should" allow it to be much more efficeing at high speeds. Something which the insight and prius perform only slightly better than regular cars.
    Of course, but it's still trying to solve exactly the same problem.

  • emicen 26 Feb 2013

    ctallchris said:
    kambites said:
    It might be an entirely new market segment if Honda hadn't done it in the 90s with the Insight.
    While the insight is a good car in terms of efficeincy on a motorway the insight isnt in the same league. The low roofline keeps the frontal area of the xl1 much lower (nearly half the CdA). Focussing utterly on this and ignoring the features and practicalities of the city car "Should" allow it to be much more efficeing at high speeds. Something which the insight and prius perform only slightly better than regular cars.
    Used solely as a motorway or higher speed commute car I would contest the Prius being at all better than a regular [albeit diesel] car of similar size.

  • JonnyVTEC 25 Feb 2013

    ctallchris said:
    While the insight is a good car in terms of efficeincy on a motorway the insight isnt in the same league. The low roofline keeps the frontal area of the xl1 much lower (nearly half the CdA). Focussing utterly on this and ignoring the features and practicalities of the city car "Should" allow it to be much more efficeing at high speeds. Something which the insight and prius perform only slightly better than regular cars.
    Depends what it's sold for really. You are talking about the Gen 1 Insight? I don't think the Insight made a market either, it tried and failed even with £7k loss on each one.

    Slightly better?

  • ctallchris 25 Feb 2013

    kambites said:
    It might be an entirely new market segment if Honda hadn't done it in the 90s with the Insight.
    While the insight is a good car in terms of efficeincy on a motorway the insight isnt in the same league. The low roofline keeps the frontal area of the xl1 much lower (nearly half the CdA). Focussing utterly on this and ignoring the features and practicalities of the city car "Should" allow it to be much more efficeing at high speeds. Something which the insight and prius perform only slightly better than regular cars.


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