Volkswagen XL1 review how low can you go? GreenMotor co uk

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Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars

23 October 2013

Rating: 5 out of 5

Good: Incredibly frugal and with obvious precision

Cramped, noisy, impractical, and expensive

Price: 111,000 94,000)

It s ironic that has chosen to call its most car the XL1, given that is the one thing it s not. Photographs don t convey how narrow, delicate and low the vehicle is when confronted in It s about knee-high to an MX-5.

the car doesn t feel quite as as the exterior might suggest. You sit in a position, more bathtub armchair, on a thinly padded that dictates a fixed between your thighs and (though you can pitch the whole up and down a bit). Getting feels distinctly unusual but the is comfortable enough.

You wouldn t the XL1 as spacious unless you normally in a coffin, but the staggered seating which places the passenger a further back than the helps to prevent elbows

And you will need to swing arms. On the move, one of the most facets of the XL1 driving experience is the lack of power steering. The needed to turn the small, wheel is unusually firm, at low speed, away from the line.

When carving corners at middling speeds it can feel as if the XL1 is understeering, though result is not through any lack of from the narrow eco tyres, but the need for harder work at the

Of course the XL1 s name is nothing to do its size, instead referencing its as an experimental 1-litre car measured in economy terms rather cubic capacity. One litre per equates to about 282mpg, the car has managed to trump that goal, achieving 0.9 litres per under the combined cycle or about 313mpg, and just in CO2 terms. Unofficially, I m told that result has been up from an even better (340mpg).

All of which are nonsense anyway, since the XL1 is a plug-in electric car, relying on electricity to achieve a battery-only of about 30 miles, or using power to supplement the 0.8-litre, diesel engine in hybrid And since you can t carry electrons in a I m not a fan of gallon-based measures for cars come with a plug. mileage will vary according to how often you drive the point where the 5.5kW ion battery runs out of initial though outcomes will still land on the far side of

And when I say your mileage it could be you, given VW is putting the XL1 into limited In all, 200 customer cars be built, plus 50 prototypes, of which may be offered second-hand. The UK get perhaps 20 cars, all left-hand

But it might be handy to win the lottery as the European price has been set at a 111,000 or about 94,000.

You do get a bit of drama for your money. down, pop your fingers the letterbox slot of the door and you can lift the big clamshell door in supercar style. There s the kudos of a carbon-fibre and aluminium though the black weave on the and steering wheel is apparently not the thing.

Clamber aboard, the door shut the lightweight swings down easily its gas struts and take note of the alloy door release at sill level. A small red lamp ahead of the handle glow brightly if the explosive are armed. Yes, in the unlikely that your driving you on your roof, the doors need to be jettisoned, as they won t when upside down and you ll to slip out of the elbow-sized side unless you re a direct descendent of Houdini.

Press the starter and you re good to go in silent electric mode if you wish. One of the few buttons on the centre console selects EV which will rely on the (27bhp) motor and keep the quiet unless you floor the There s no external warning so unwary pedestrians may need to be at.

If you do stamp on the throttle, pushing the kink in its travel designed to the 48PS (47bhp) diesel will spring into action behind your as peaceful as a spadeful of gravel in a machine.

There s clearly not much between the engine bay and the cabin, the clatter is only really at low speed, and only then it arrives in unsubtle contrast to the silence of electric propulsion. At speeds, once tyre and noise has built up a little, you can hear the engine cutting in and out as it its hybrid stuff.

The electric is mounted between the engine and with all drive channelled to the rear wheels. A clutch the two power sources allows the XL1 to put the engine to one side when not it, though the electric motor is hooked up to the gearbox.

Aside the EV button there s not much for the to juggle when driving. The dual-clutch transmission makes smoothly and unobtrusively, and can t be overruled The gear lever does between D and S modes on the move, roughly speaking are suited to and city driving respectively.

In D, the will open both its when you lift off the throttle a gliding or coasting sensation is also offered by automatic of the current VW Golf. Of course the XL1, with an eel-like factor of 0.189, makes the wind-cheating new Golf feel as if it s a huge parachute.

Set to S, the electric motor will coupled to the wheels as you lift off the creating a gentle engine-braking that is actually energy Much of the energy of the car s momentum is and funnelled back into the as it slows, which also when braking at up to about 20% For sharper stopping, the car s ceramic make a noisy, grinding to shedding speed.

Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars

Taken the brakes feel surprisingly and reassuringly progressive.

A lift-out screen unit, similar to found in the humble VW Up. provides a of animated graphics to keep you about the various power from wheels to battery, or versa, and energy moving engine to wheels or engine to It also serves the more purpose of satellite navigation.

And of the Up, it s interesting to note that the XL1 s hybrid powertrain will fit under the Up s truncated bonnet. I m the result would likely be a (141mpg) city car.

Any plug-in Up would of course be less slippery than the XL1 and not as though it would be more with two extra seats. It would probably carry its own charger. The XL1 comes with a box of electronics that slots your mains supply and a socket on the car s flank.

The charger has left out for reasons of weight and space, though apparently it fit in the boot if you want to recharge en though of course the XL1 can carry on without plugging in, if you fill up the tank every 300 miles or so.

On the road, there s plenty of ahead and to the sides, courtesy of screen pillars, though the low viewpoint will feel if you ve just stepped out of an SUV. vision is unnervingly absent, and no mirrors at all it s down to a pair of about two feet off the ground on side, to provide a lowdown via twin monitors mounted in the These mimic curved, door mirrors by giving a view at their outer No doubt you d adjust in time but to with it can feel difficult to judge lane-changing gaps in traffic.

Fortunately, people to make way for the XL1 on account of its resemblance to a landed UFO.

The 200 production may gain a third camera, a central rear-view mirror, to a modest blind spot astern.

I suspect the need to control airflow under the for aerodynamic efficiency, is why the XL1 comes with suspension as softly as a shopping trolley. Lumps, and potholes shimmy straight to the cabin, in jaw-jarring sports-car

Not that the XL1 ever feels The chassis remains resolutely through bends but the performance on is never more than The car can handle everything from nippiness to motorway overtaking, but it isn t as the 12.7-second dash to 62mph clear.

Top speed is also capped at in the interests of economy, though a car might hit 125mph.

Climbing out of the over its wide, high-set sill, you might easily that the XL1 is not very good. It s cramped, impractical, slow, and hard riding. But judged in the of what it s actually designed to do, it s not to be won over by its single-minded, fanatical to the business of saving fuel.

in its own frame of reference, the XL1 is simply It feels as seductively desirable as any pure, precision tool. It s a Sabatier knife for the road.

Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars
Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars
Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars
Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars
Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars
Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars
Volkswagen XL1 Electric Cars


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