Published August 29, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
Work on precursors to the (sub) 1-liter XL1 dates back to 2002.
Volkswagen may have refused to sign just-announced U.S. efficiency mandates in protest to alleged discriminatory practices, but its Euro-market 235 mpg XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid caught road testing is partial proof VW does not intend to be left behind.
You may have seen this 2-seater around when it was showcased and test driven at the 2011 Qatar Motor Show and where at the time the prototype was said to deliver 261 mpg (0.9 l/100 km) on the European test cycle.
The current version shot by spy photographers is based around the same 800-cc, twin-cylinder turbo diesel delivering 48 horsepower and 88 pound-feet torque plus a 30 horsepower electric motor and seven-speed DSG transmission.
Performance is said to be in the neighborhood of 0-62 mph in 11.9 seconds, and top speed is limited to 99 mpg. All electric range is estimated at 24 miles.
Its rear wheels – shown exposed in testing – ought to have aerodynamic shrouds back in place when the car built with carbon fiber reinforced polymer on the MQB platform is launched in Germany as a limited-production offering in 2013.
The show version – a third generation effort – had measured at 153-inches long, 66-inches wide, 45-inches high, and weight was around 1,753 pounds.
XL1 concept photo from 2011.
The limited-production XL1 ought to be seen as early as some time in late 2012, and inside and out it appears to be staying close to the concept.
Given the “261” and “235” mpg numbers are based on the European cycle, it may wind up with somewhere between 150 mpg and 200 mpg on the EPA cycle. If it does, this will be quite a feat all by itself, although the formula to break beyond current limits looks feasible: a tiny fuel sipper, extremely low weight and aerodynamic drag coefficient of only 0.186 will perhaps triple the 50 mpg offered by a Toyota Prius, exceed also 95 MPGe for the plug-in Prius, and set a new standard for hybrids.
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