Review: Volkswagen XL1

By Brandon Turkus

February 21, 2013

This is the Master Landing Page for the Volkswagen XL1. From now on, as we further review this car, we will be updating this page with whatever fresh content we create. Future drive reviews, updated specifications, videos, and other relevant information will all be found right here, in one convenient spot.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the XL1, and Volkswagen is calling it the world’s most efficient car. With a combined fuel economy rating of 261 miles per gallon, a slippery-as-a-fish body, and a supremely low curb weight, we’re inclined to believe that claim.
The XL1 utilizes a two-cylinder, turbodiesel that produces 47 horsepower. It’s joined by a 27-horsepower electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. While that all sounds quite modest, the XL1 can still reach a top speed of 99 miles per hour and takes about 12.7 seconds to hit 60 mph. 
On the road, the XL1 can travel up to 32 miles on electric power. After that, it’s hybrid drivetrain kicks in. Despite running on gas power, the XL1 needs just 8.3 horsepower to maintain a consistent 62 mph.
The XL1’s powertrain is also exceptionally clean, generating just 21 grams of CO2 for each kilometer it travels. From what we can tell, it’s the cleanest non-EV ever built.
Its body, is low, smooth, and sleek, boasting a coefficient of drag of just .19. That’s identical to General Motors’ original electric car, the EV1, and it improves upon the Toyota Prius’s CoD of .25. What all that mumbo jumbo means is that the XL1 can cut through the air with a minimum of resistance, which in turn requires less energy to propel the car along.
Finally, thanks to the liberal use of carbon fiber, the XL1’s curb weight sits at just 1753 pounds, or less than a Lotus Elise.
It’s likely we’ll find out more info on the XL1 at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. Stay tuned.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Volkswagen.
• Volkswagen to produce XL1 at its Osnabrück plant in Germany, using carbonfiber technology
• The XL1 is the most aerodynamic production car ever, with a Cd of 0.19
• 261 mpg combined fuel consumption was a vision—now it’s a reality
Wolfsburg, Germany -  The XL1 from Volkswagen is the most fuel-efficient production car in the world, with a European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid system, this two-seat vehicle can also cover up to 32 miles as a zero-emissions vehicle in all-electric mode.
The XL1 is an automotive standout that follows pure sports-car design principles: light weight (1753 pounds), exceptional aerodynamics (Cd 0.19), and a low center of gravity. This super-efficient Volkswagen thus has the ability to cruise down the road at a constant 62 mph while using just 8.3 horsepower. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover more than a kilometer.
The XL1 emits just 21 g/km of CO2, thanks to its high-tech lightweight design, aerodynamic efficiency, and a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a 47-hp two-cylinder TDI® engine, a 27-hp electric motor, a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a lithium-ion battery. The 261 mpg fuel consumption figure is a record that has not been achieved by any other vehicle to date, showing that Volkswagen is redefining what is technically feasible in the automotive industry. The XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds. 
Conceptually, the XL1 represents the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen’s 1-liter car strategy. When the new millennium was ushered in, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, currently Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of putting into production a practical car that had combined fuel consumption of one liter per 100 km (235 mpg). In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality. 
Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, the engineers and designers successfully came up with a body design which delivers more everyday utility than the two previous prototypes. In the L1, the 1-liter car that was shown in 2002 and 2009, the driver and passenger sat in a tandem arrangement for optimal aerodynamics; in the XL1, the two occupants sit slightly offset, side by side, almost like a conventional vehicle.
The XL1 is 153.1 inches long, 65.6 in wide, and just 45.4 in tall. By comparison, a Volkswagen Polo is slightly longer (156.3 in) and wider (66.2 in), but is significantly taller (57.6 in). Even a purebred sports car like today’s Porsche Boxster is 5.1 inches taller. The XL1 will look spectacular going down the highway—a car of the future, built for today.
About Volkswagen of America, Inc. 
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Eos, Golf, Golf R, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, CC, Tiguan, Touareg and Routan vehicles through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.