First Drive Volkswagen XL1 Plugin Diesel Hybrid PluginCars com — Volkswagen XL1

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First Drive: Volkswagen XL1 Diesel Hybrid

By Brad · June 26, 2013

XL1 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo: Berman)

A dozen years Volkswagen embarked upon a to design a vehicle that can 100 kilometers using merely one of diesel fuel. VW logically the car the L1. The company this week a small group of American to drive the fourth iteration of the car one known as the XL1 on a 40-minute trip the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, I was part of the group that the XL1’s iconoclastic blend of efficiency strategies:

Plug-in power

Sleek aerodynamics


Efficient (very) diesel engine design

these strategies has a multiplicative allowing the XL1 to beat its 100-km by 10 percent, providing 110 kilometers on a liter of fuel. (That to about 260 miles per gallon.) even more impressive is the design a fun, stylish of automotive innovation that car coolness for the 21st century, out horsepower and brawn as the measure of and attraction, with an irresistible quirky charisma.

Gutsy, Chic


(Photo: Brad

The XL1 seats only a driver and a to the side, staggered a few inches the rear of the car. The body is wide in front, and tapers to thinner proportions toward the While providing as much as 30 of all-electric capability from a battery, stomping on the accelerator up a 0.8 liter rear-mounted 48-horsepower just enough internal propulsion, combined with to move the car along with city traffic or not feel behind on Germany’s famed When that small engine comes online, it clatters, nearly directly the passenger cabin. In an effort to weight, sound dampening was making every flutter of the as well as every bump in the or scraping screech from the ceramic brakes a visceral

This intrusion into the is part of the car’s gestalt, with its scissor doors, cameras (to replace mirrors), and shape. Power steering was eschewed in the name of light making turns at any decent an athletic feat not dissimilar to a Tesla Roadster. It all adds up to a ton of Efficiency is not a matter of sacrifice or VW made the XL1 gutsy and chic.

the tiny slot of a passenger manually wound up and down, analog-hipster. Of course, the small will make it impossible to receive a Supersized fast meal at a drive-through window. as well there’s absolutely chance this car will its way to the United States.

Read My Lips: De-mon-stra-tion


Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. (Photo: Berman)

Volkswagen will use a process that looks and a lot like mass production at its in Osnabruck, Germany but merely 250 XL1 will be made. Approximately the 50 will be put on loan to VIPs for a few at a time, or to Germany-based customers who proposals to demonstrate how the XL1 can be incorporated a daily sustainable lifestyle. The of those loaners have been given out. a “real” production run of 200 cars right, just 200 cars be sold or leased like any VW automobile. No pricing info is yet

In a meeting with the journalists, Dr. Hackenberg, a chief product on the Volkswagen board, yesterday the word “demonstration” when about the XL1. He also that the company needed to in a full range of automotive and fuels (from compressed gas and fuel cells to plug-in and, of course, diesels) to corporate global efficiency More importantly, Hackenberg the use of a very small diesel like the XL1’s two-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel, combined a parallel plug-in hybrid could soon be applied to VW model perhaps a subcompact the Up city car it sells in Europe.

It’s too early to tell if a future model will be in greater quantities, or reach shores. But for me, at this stage, enough to know that the head-turning ultra-lightweight XL1 exists and can as a compelling vision for quantum in aerodynamics and high-tech appeal. The Cd of the XL1 is a 0.19. It weighs only pounds, by virtue of its carbon-fiber

Volkswagen XL1

The car’s plug-in hybrid consists of a 48-horsepower two-cylinder engine, a 27-horsepower electric a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic and a lithium-ion battery. This is now in VW’s back pocket, to be used if regulations demand, or forward in some partial or fashion to a future VW electro-diesel And it’s ready to be emulated by any car with a brave vision.


Speed is not the XL1’s d’etre. It has a top speed of 99 miles per but accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in a leisurely seconds. After hitting speeds, take your entirely off the accelerator and there’s no regenerative braking. That’s VW product people call

With the slightest depression of the pedal, the regen braking back into action braking energy into the lithium ion battery pack. If you the sweet spot on the accelerator just barely into the the driver can simultaneously maintain speed, while producing level of regen essentially diesel fuel into power on the fly from this hybrid system. The press for the car reads: “This super-efficient can cruise at a constant 62 mph while just 8.3 horsepower.”

To save and improve aerodynamics, VW engineers side-view mirrors. Instead, used low-profile cameras and a inserted into the door.

I had a half-hour in the car, so there enough time to fully with how to wring the greatest and driving pleasure out of the system. But I did experience was a blast, albeit compromised by the car’s lack of visibility. I’m 6’ so street signs above the were hard to see, no how I tilted the driver’s seat. The view monitors while in all very faithful to what you see in an analog side mirror hard to trust. I kept to peer over my shoulder, but the provides the only unobstructed for checking if it’s safe to into adjacent lanes.

Leading the Way

After my relatively drive of the XL1, I returned to Autostadt car theme park and museum. There, on display, two previous versions of the XL1, one 2002 and another from While those previous L1 are cool in a Batmobile way this XL1 I drove felt much like a real and practical of city mobility, complete side-by-side passenger comfort and cargo space for two pieces of luggage.

Okay, so it won’t be to the U.S. and won’t be produced 250 models. VW is not hiding that as opposed to some of its competitors pass off their limited-run models as “production” vehicles, but merely enough to exactly with regulations.

All of the technologies in the XL1 are ready-for-primetime, even if it isn’t economical to throw all of them in one car, as VW has done. Nonetheless, the XL1 can be off as an impressive vision of what’s when great aerodynamics, design, and plug-in diesel are integrated.

At the same time, I can’t what VW’s chief of technology Dr. Rudolf Krebs me earlier this year. want to become the leader in he said. Then he flashed a that showed seven hybrids and two pure EVs in VW’s roadmap in the next two years. If any of quirky geeky excitement the XL1 finds its way to those cars, could shake up the world of vehicles with a fresh to ultra-efficient travel.

Volkswagen XL1
Volkswagen XL1
Volkswagen XL1

Volkswagen XL1
Volkswagen XL1


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