First drive 261 mpg Volkswagen XL1 Yahoo Finance — Volkswagen XL1

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Volkswagen XL1

First drive: 261 mpg Volkswagen XL1

It a bit of effort to slip in under the doors and then wedge into the low-slung seat of the (XETRA:VOW3-DE) XL1. And it’s more difficult for my co-pilot, as the seat is set slightly rearward, tandem-style.

The simple reality is the windswept two-seater isn’t for comfort. The Volkswagen XL1 was designed for mileage. And we’re not talking like the mere 50 to 60 mpg of today’s hybrids, nor the 100 mpg equivalent ratings of of the latest battery-electric vehicles.

No, diesel plug-in hybrid received a mind-boggling rating European authorities of 261 mpg, far and a record.

Describing the XL1 as my baby, manager Steven Volckaert the project has been underway for than a decade, with the goal of squeezing out 100 kilometers a single liter of fuel. For the challenged, that works out to 235 mpg.

VW revealed its first attempt in a tandem-seating concept dubbed the L1. a somewhat more traditional layout-and even better the XL1 made its world debut at the Motor Show last

But what came as a shock was that VW would actually put the machine into production, in limited numbers, a year or so now. Specific details yet to be worked out, including the

It’s likely to rival of some of the German maker’s luxurious models-but even the cost almost certainly come close to covering the cost of building the XL1, if the mileage champ were to rolling out of the factory in the same as more mainstream Volkswagen like the Golf.

No surprise what it takes to achieve 261

There were three key to the project:

A superlight chassis and

Aerodynamics on the order of the most aircraft; and

An ultraefficient powertrain.

The VW XL1 is primarily out of CFRP, or carbon fiber-reinforced the same exotic material in Formula One race cars and the extreme sports cars the Volkswagen Group’s Lamborghini There are other light such as magnesium wheels and brakes, and clever engineering the parts count so only the normal front cross-member is

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The are impressive. The monocoque, or passenger weighs in at just 197 pounds, the entire vehicle at a mere pounds.


A variety of wind-cheating also play a role, full underbody panels and of conventional side-view mirrors, the XL1 a pair of tiny cameras display images on LCD screens into each door.

But the heart of this high-mileage is a minuscule 2-cylinder, 0.8-liter diesel engine paired a 27-hp electric motor power from a 5.5 kilowatt-hour battery.

The plug-in system deliver a nominal 32 miles in mode, though for longer or under more aggressive conditions, the diesel will up.

For now, as I hit start, the diesel is The only way to tell the XL1 is ready to is by reading the gauge cluster between the steering wheel. the dual-clutch manual into the little car lurches forward, the sound gravel crunching its narrow, low-friction tires.

As we through traffic in Wolfsburg, German home, the XL1 draws of stares from pedestrians and drivers. The car is so small it’s to maneuver city streets and the XL1 has no power steering-too heavy-it’s so as to be surprisingly nimble.

On local there’s little trouble up with traffic, though the test comes as we turn the A1 Autobahn heading toward

Volkswagen XL1

The good news is that the vehicle so light, its compact delivers quicker acceleration one might expect. It’s no but it’s quicker than classic econoboxes that otherwise leave you fearing for life on the unlimited German

Of course, the diesel has finally up and, well, no matter how VW ultimately charges when the XL1 on sale you won’t confuse it a similarly priced luxury

To save weight, there is no sound insulation so the cockpit with the oil-burner’s clacking. as we exit the Autobahn it quickly down and our ears get a respite as we to battery power.

We can only that VW planners opt to sacrifice a few and a couple mpg when the two-seater into production. Even if it delivered 255 mpg in final trim potential buyers be disappointed?

In fact, a final check of the as we pull back into VW shows that we’ve averaging a more thirsty 1.8 per 100 km, a mere 138 mpg, due to spending so of our time racing along the under diesel power to the XL1’s top speed of 99 mph.

said, we’d still be to make the run from Berlin to Los Angeles to San Francisco, for that well less than gallons of fuel.

VW expects to just a couple hundred of the XL1, enough to log some data about the various the little car uses.

In the years however, we can expect to see the design more mainstream products as the struggles to meet increasing and emissions standards around the

While 261 mpg requires some sacrifice from driver and alike, the Volkswagen XL1 should engineers and designers figure out to deliver significantly better than the typical automobile today.

— By CNBC Contributor A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter or at thedetroitbureau.com .

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