261 MPG Volkswagen XL1 Production Confirmed, Debuts Geneva

Follow Antony

Volkswagen has toyed with the idea of cigar-shaped ultra-eco cars for some time now, but a production car is finally on the way.

The Volkswagen XL1 is a plug-in diesel hybrid with a body seemingly beamed in from a future time.

It's the physical representation of the benefits of reducing weight and improving aerodynamics. The small body may only take two people, but it's allowed for an incredibly streamlined body with a drag coefficient of only 0.189.

Low weight--only 1,752 lbs--means only a small engine and electric motor is needed to deliver respectable performance. Much of the car is constructed from carbon fiber, aluminium and titanium.

VW says the car will do 261 mpg, though the real figure will be lower than that should it ever be tested under EPA guidelines. Even so, it'll still use comfortably less fuel than any vehicle currently on sale.

A diesel engine of only 0.8 liters and 2 cylinders capacity produces 47 horsepower, with a further 27 horses delivered by the electric motor. Power reache the wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Those figures sound miniscule by modern standards, but the XL1 should reach 62 mph in12.7 seconds. Top speed is 98 mph.

Operating alone, the small battery can deliver up to 31 miles of range, and can be charged via plug or regenerative effect.

The price you pay for being green...

The negative aspect to all this is cost. The XL1 is unlikely to be built in large numbers, and What Car estimates a cost as high as $100,000 or more.

Holger Boch, XL1 project leader, says "It's clearly going to cost a lot more than a Golf - it's made of carbonfibre and has two engines. The people who buy it will be people who like technology and who like being seen in a low-CO2 car."

Thankfully, its drivetrain may be put to more practical use, in cars like the VW Up city car.

Whether either of these will ever reach the U.S. is unclear, though Volkswagen will reveal more details at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (26)
  1. It's hard to imagine VW would actually charge $100K+ for this. Who would want one at that price level?

  2. Jay Leno?

  3. My dream car. 200mpg+ diesel hybrid running on biodiesel = least environmental impact you can make, while still driving a personal vehicle, in my opinion

  4. For $100,000;No way. This is a statement vehicle for wealthy people. Build it in a mode cost effective manner. Make it with a stamped steel space frame with ABS body work a la Saturn or Smart. Ditch the gull wing doors. No Titanium.
    Replace the DSG with a 6 speed manual gearbox. Maybe the weight comes up to 2000 lbs. With 47 HP and great aerodynamics this car should be able to cruise at 85 on level ground. My 81 Rabbit can, and it will take a lot less power to push this shape.
    If it gets 120 MPG and costs around $20K, sign me up!
    The problem will be getting it through the US bureaucracy. Maybe a new rule that says that any car that gets better than 100 MPG and meets EU smog and safety can be sold in the US.

  5. "but the XL1 should reach 62 mph in12.7 seconds. Top speed is 98 mph."

    Again, VW is going "backward"... trading MPG for acceleration...

  6. I can understand your view Xiaolong, but those are some pretty impressive numbers to trade for! Perhaps it's not suitable for the U.S, but such a car certainly wouldn't be out of its depth in Europe.

  7. Yeah, I am pretty sure teh 261 MPG is one of those so called "Fake MPG" or according John B. one of those MPGbs thing... It probably includes the 31 miles EV miles.

    NO different from the Volt's claim of 230mpg before it was released...

  8. A good point, though do you think a highly aerodynamic car with a small diesel engine and ~20 miles of EV range won't get closer than the heavier, less aerodynamic, gasoline-powered Volt?

    (Obviously this depends on how far/regularly you drive...)

  9. Xiaolong: mpg and speed or power will never go "hand in hand" with heat engines. Porsche may have found an answer to your needs: the "918 Spyder" may reach 200mph @76mpg. But you will need to disburse $0.8mil to get one. On second thoughts, we will have to wait and see the real numbers. I have no doubts about a Porsche reaching 200+mph. But my 2.0L Prius tells me that an 8-cylinder engine pushing a car over 100mph and making over 30mpg is like reaching the absolute zeroK..."Impossible". When on a "trip mode" I floor the Prius after a "stop of a traffic light", consumption displays "0" right after the "rpm's" go above 2000.I love the Prius, it's like a school to learn about hybrid technologies and smart driving ;-)

  10. That is why I love the Tesla S. It is powerful and yet still efficient... (relative to an ICE).

  11. OMG this looks exactly what the original Honda Insight hybrid of fourteen years ago would have looked like if it had lived beyond 2006.

  12. Another critical factor to high efficiency is low aerodynamic drag. It has a Cd of 0.186 which is far better than any other production vehicle. And it is narrower than it would be otherwise, by staggering the seats - the passenger seat is slightly behind the driver's seat so it can be closer to the center of the car.

    The electric motor should help it feel quicker than it is - I think some people are way too concerned about acceleration. At least all the way up to 60MPH - when you drive onto most highways, you have an entrance ramp where you are already going 30-35mph, so getting up to 60mph is quicker.

    I think it can't cost more than $50K - it is limited production and it is a halo car, they'll have to sell them.


  13. "you have an entrance ramp where you are already going 30-35mph,"

    I guess those "on-ramp" lights aren't used in your neighborhood or 90 degree/uphill on ramp doesn't exist either...

    I can't see this car handling a tight on ramp curve at 35mph...

  14. Xiaolong Li there is another world out here beyond yours both in the physical sense and in your perception of the need for power speed and acceleration. Regular readers of this site are well aware of your quest for power but can you at least accept others are polar opposites and dispense with the monotonous power rhetoric that's becoming oh so boring.

  15. Well, I want EVs to be on par or better than existing ICE cars. I believe that is the way that general public will accept the EVs as alternative. Without it, the general public will always look at "green" cars with a sense of "doubt". Telsa broke that stereotype...

    Also, I am pretty sure that 261 MPG is a fake MPG with Electric miles includes. NOT different from my Volt's display of 250+ MPG...

  16. 261mp using the "imperial gallon" actually reduces to 218mpg(approx), which is still impressive, using the US gallon. In addition, I read that 261mpg can only happen when the battery is full, which is a bit less than an illusion in real driving conditions. When the battery is not full, fuel consumption reduces to about 100mpg, which is still great, but a far cry from the announced 260+mpg. Tesla indeed can beat a Viper from zero to sixty, but it doesn't offer a range extender version, I don't know why.I think that paying $100K+ for a car that either is going to be a bit too slow or is going to give you range anxiety in the 21st century is what you call "the sense of doubt", and I agree. Those cars are far from competing with the Prius today

  17. I drive a 2012 Prius; which with the right gas, tire pressure and smart driving returns a range of over 500 miles, good for 50+mpg

  18. The general public may have to evolve as it has done in the past and accept high performance will always be to the detriment of economy. There is another school of thought that society will accept that most of us do not require a huge range or the performance you crave and that we have become too wasteful etc. An example of this evolution is the way the internet has changed our habits of less travel for shopping,work etc. I share your desire for things to move forward but it doesn't always have to mimic the present or past, what will dictate what is acceptable is societal changes.

  19. There are more comments in this thread
  20. The XL1 is rated at 261MPG in the European test cycle. That would equate to 235MPG in US gallons. And since diesel contains about 20% more energy per gallon than gasoline (E10?), if it burned gasoline that would be ~188MPG. Still, very impressive!

    I'll take the ~31 miles of all-electric range - the total battery pack size is reported to be 5kWh and assuming (never a good thing?) that they are using 90-92% of that, that means the XL1 is about 145-150Wh/mile. Which not surprisingly is a little bit better than the EV1 - and almost entirely proportional to the Cd's of each car. The EV1 in production had a Cd of ~0.20 and the Cd of the XL1 is just under 0.19.


  21. There is at least one report that VW will be using (a front wheel drive version of) the XL1 drivetrain in the Up! This would be a lot less expensive, and much more practical, and the Up! is only 300 pounds heavier than the XL1. The Cd would be the biggest change - the Up! is probably 50% higher Cd and probably close to 100% higher CdA.


  22. I'm not correct on the MPG - 0.9L/100km does convert correctly to 261MPG US. I should have checked before I posted.

  23. Xiaolong Li wrote..I think the next generation of plugins needs to do better than the hybrids today. Offering superior performance while allowing you to have the efficiency when you decide to be efficient.
    The Volt already accomplishes this does it not?

  24. This is interesting:


    I hope that this is referring to the Up! Lite - but if it is the Up!, then that is okay, too. Here's the Up! Lite:



Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.