2014 Volkswagen XL1 (Euro spec) - First Drive, Wolfsburg, June 2013Enlarge Photo
Volkswagen is working on a sportier version of its hyper-efficient XL1 plug-in.
During a presentation at the University of Vienna, Volkswagen board chairman Ferdinand Piëch announced plans for a Ducati-powered XL1--appropriately named XL Sport.
Replacing the XL1's 0.8-liter diesel twin will be a version of Ducati's Panigale V-twin, which displaces around 1.2-liters and produces 187 horsepower at 10,750 rpm and 91 pound-feet of torque at 9,000 rpm.
That's significantly more than the XL1. With its electric motor and 5.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack factored in, the XL1 can muster 68 hp and 103 lb-ft in "boosting mode."
What's unclear is whether the XL Sport will retain the original XL1's electric motor and battery pack, or whether it will essentially be a four-wheeled motorcycle, high-revving engine and all.
Either way, the Sport will likely be less focused on fuel economy than the XL1.
The German car magazine Bild published a photo of Piëch with a presentation slide showing the XL Sport.
The car in the rendering features noticeably wider fenders than the the XL1, indicating that VW will fit it with bigger wheels and tires.
Larger tires would create more grip, but also more friction. Along with the wider bodywork, they would also increase the car's frontal area, potentially creating a higher coefficient of drag than the XL1's 0.189.
The current XL1 is not a performance car, nor was it meant to be. Some cars are designed for maximum acceleration, top speed, or cornering grip; the XL1 was designed for maximum mpg.
Volkswagen says the standard XL1 will achieve 261 mpg on the European cycle, with a fully-charged battery. On a short test drive in Wolfsburg, Germany, we managed 168 mpg.
But we suspect the Ducati-powered XL Sport won't reach those heights of efficiency.
It sure sounds like fun, though.