Beating the Man in Volkswagen’s slippery XL1 MSN Autos

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Volkswagen up Electric Cars

Beating the Man in Volkswagen’s slippery XL1

Tate heads to Germany to the world’s ultimate hybrid unfortunately, we’ll never be to buy.

By James_Tate  Jun 27, 8:13AM

Before driving the XL1, I heard one journalist another rant about how loud it was as each got out of the cockpit. And the is, yeah, it s a little noisy the diesel engine kicks on.

It s of like puttering around a in a small outboard motorboat. me, you’ll get over it. This plug-in hybrid gets 261 mpg on the cycle, which Volkswagen makes the XL1 the most efficient car in the world.

These journalists had me it was like a Colombian drug in there, and it s just not. It s a noisy, but what were you from a 2-cylinder diesel that s a stressed member, a couple feet behind head? There s the occasional too for you racy types, think of it as your car feels like stiffer engine mounts.

But around town, you re going to be in mode, which is good for 31 miles of driving on the car’s lithium-ion battery, which about an hour and a half to on 220 volts. In other words, you ain t be paying much for your commute.

It s not really that either. That little engine puts out 48 horsepower and 89 of torque, and the electric motor about 27 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of (total system power is 68 and 103 lb-ft of torque). A 7-speed automatic gearbox really to leverage the limited oomph.

you look at the XL1 from the outside, you think you re about to get into a kit car. But that s just not the You d be hard pressed to find in the fit and finish compared with the best-selling Golf.

I m a bit of a minimalist, so I like the fact the controls inside the XL1’s carbon monocoque cabin are so There s the familiar Volkswagen and a simple climate control There s also a big button for air and a small screen for your navigation, as well as the more-or-less suite of hybrid data-visualization

The rear view mirrors are which display on LCD monitors each door. There s no steering, but it just doesn t in a car that weighs 1,753 and besides, it means there s in the wheel! (With today’s power steering racks, I d forgotten what that like.) The column itself is adjustable for reach. The one-piece fiber seats are adjustable for and fore/aft only.

The windows crank open a flip-out manual winder, and don t open much. Think SVX .

The other gripe I keep from my colleagues is that the XL1 isn t fun to which is also nonsense. Porsche says about its 911 GT3 to the lack of a proper manual it s just a different kind of fun . In the of the XL1, there s a chuckle comes from knowing you re sticking it to the Man like you re getting with something because you less on gas than you do on paper in a year.

And the feeling of beating the comes often, like you delicately ride the carbon brakes toward a stop knowing that you re charging the in the process. Or when you get going 70 mph, then let off the gas and the XL1 just for what feels like eerily unimpeded by friction. the tiny 830cc engine off in traffic, the XL1 feels like a among a sea of Boeing 727s, effortlessly from one thermocline to the

The XL1 isn t going to set any handling records its very narrow (and proprietary) Michelin tires R16 up front and 145/55 R16 at the back), but is something entertaining about it off an exit ramp, just you feel everything. You know the chassis is doing and exactly the wheels are aimed.

As you might the XL1 turns heads. This jellybean really does like the car of the future, and everybody I everybody does a double I told you about the e-mirrors, but about the XL1 is designed to cut drag, an incredible .189 Cd (for a Prius does about

The XL1 boasts a completely flat and even the engine cooling, for is done from the back of the where the air is most turbulent.

air is sucked in through the diffuser, and hot air out the top, aided by a SPAL fan set atop the tiny diesel. As as we re talking about the rear end of the I should mention that s a tiny trunk enough for a carry-on bag and a laptop bag on top of that. the wiring in the XL1 has been converted to to save a few pounds and the dashboard is wood.


There are no plans to the XL1 to the United States (these cost Volkswagen a fortune to and as a populace we aren t exactly to small cars), but you should they would. I m completely to find myself a fan.

James Tate cut his teeth in the as a race-team crew member moving to the editorial side as editor of Sport Compact and his work has appeared in Popular Automobile, Motor Trend and Car. When not writing, is usually fantasizing about a Porsche 911.

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