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Ultra-Efficient Volkswagen XL1 Hybrid May Inspire Sports Car

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On: Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 7:31AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ultra-Efficient Volkswagen XL1 Hybrid May Inspire Sports Car

Destined to become the world's most fuel efficient production car, the revolutionary Volkswagen XL1 is being prepared for a limited production run. Volkswagen last showed it at the Geneva Motor Show and plans to get it on the European market by the end of the year. While the United States is unlikely to get access to the 261-mpg ultralight cruiser, Volkswagen may use the car as the basis for a high-performance sports car that will make it here.

According to Automobile magazine, Volkswagen may apply the lightweight structure of the XL1 toward a sports car with Porsche 911-like performance. The car would offer that type of thrill for around half the price of the 911.

Key to the high performance-price ratio would be a combination of small engine and light carbon fiber build. It's too early for specifics, but the article mentions the possibility of a 220-hp 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder serving as the heart and soul. That engine may pale in comparison to the 911's V6 and V8 cachetch, but when you consider the XL1's miniscule 1,753-lb curb weight, it's easy to see how even a small engine could go a long way.

Keeping the price down may prove more difficult than delivering high performance. Given its list of high-priced components, the XL1 looks like it could have a six-figure price tag. In order to give the XR1 broader appeal, Volkswagen could swap some of the materials for less expensive alternatives. Automobile says that the German automaker will save about 230 lbs versus the XL1 by removing the battery pack and electric motor. That would allow Volkswagen to use lower priced alternatives like aluminum wheels in place of magnesium wheels, steel brakes in place of the XL's carbon fiber brakes, and glass windows in place of polycarbonate.

The car would also lose the rear wheel coverings and get widened tracks. The goal, if VW decides to pursue the XR1, would be a sports car that could beat the 911 to 60 mph, have a higher top speed, and ring up a fuel economy of more than 70 mpg—all for under $50K. That's a sports car a lot of people would be interested in driving, and, like the XL1, it could change the way we think about modern cars. Of course, given that it hasn't been approved, let alone developed, it could also be a pipe dream.

Volkswagen's so-called one-liter car, the XL1, uses a combination of advanced aerodynamics (VW calls it the most aerodynamic production car ever), extreme weight savings, and an efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain with 47-hp two-cylinder engine and 27-hp electric motor. It can voyage up to 32 miles on electric power alone and promises to burn just 0.9 liter of fuel per 100 kilometers. In short, it's one of the most intriguing cars on the horizon, and a sports car derivative is equally intriguing.


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