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Geneva Motor Show 2013: Volkswagen XL1

This may very well be the future of the automobile...

What you see in the images above could very well be the future of the motor car as we know it. Not in this exact form, but something pretty close, probably with 5 seats and a boot. This is the VW XL1.

Revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in production form, it has been hanging around as a concept for a couple of years in this form and for about 15 years in similar concept forms. It is also the most economical and aerodynamically efficient production car ever made. Here are the headline stats:

- 314 mpg (EU verified)

- 21 g/km of CO2

- Aerodynamic Cd rating of 0.189

The XL1 certainly looks every bit the futuristic eco car with a slim, low body with fared in rear wheels and a gently tapering rear with an abrupt Kamm-tail. There are slim LED headlights and a low nose, with the side glass shapes reminiscent of a supercar. The rear is particularly striking, with an arc of LED lights above a large diffuser. Inside there is a very spartan 2 seat cabin with VW’s usual minimalist design, the highlight being a very weird but wonderful single spoke steering wheel. But the visuals, as striking as they are, are the least important part of the XL1 – the most important is the tech.

The XL1 is powered by a 47 bhp two cylinder 0.8 litre TDi engine coupled to a 27 bhp electric motor and a 5.5 kWh battery pack. The carbon fibre body and extreme weight saving measures (the windscreen is just 3.5 mm thick) the XL1 weighs in at just 795 kg, amazing for a plug-in hybrid model. Performance is irrelevant in a car like this really, but the XL1 doesn’t disappoint with 0 – 62 mph coming up in 12.7 seconds on the way to a limited 99.4 mph top speed.

The XL1 can travel for 31 miles on battery power alone and has a claimed range of 310 miles on diesel and battery power combined, despite having a tiny 10-litre fuel tank. This works out roughly as 127 mpg if you’re working on fuel costs. But if you run the XL1 in the city, you won’t put any fuel in at all for most journeys. VW claims that thanks to the XL1’s aerodynamic efficiency and low rolling resistance, it requires just 8.3 bhp to maintain a steady 62 mph cruise.

VW will be making an initial run of 50 XL1’s, after which they will be built to meet demand. They have given no guideto the price yet though. We would expect, given the tech and materials involved, that the XL1 will cost around £50,000, though it could be up to £70,000.

Images and video courtesy of Volkswagen

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more