2014 Volkswagen XL1 (European model)
It's a limited-run, carbon-fiber bodied, plug-in hybrid, gull-winged low-slung eco supercar. None of that sounds cheap.
And as Volkswagen UK reveals pricing for the light-weight plug-in hybrid, we now know just how not-cheap it actually is: £98,515, or just under $169,000 at current exchange rates. Ouch.
Still, people will pay that for a Porsche or an Aston Martin without even blinking. Those are much faster of course, but with just 200 XL1s scheduled for worldwide production, your average luxury sports car is nowhere near as exclusive.
The XL1 is the culmination of Volkswagen's mission to produce a "one liter" car--that doesn't refer to engine capacity, but the ability for the car to use just one liter of fuel to travel 100 kilometers--235 mpg in real money.
In the end, VW actually beat that goal with the XL1. At 0.9 l/100km in European testing, the XL1's official consumption figure is over 261 mpg.
We'd point out, as ever, that real-world figures will vary hugely depending on what proportion of the car's 31-mile all-electric range and its 0.8-liter twin-cylinder turbocharged diesel is called into action on any given journey.
Not that a 1,750-pound car with a drag coefficient of 0.189 will ever be particularly thirsty, and VW says maintaining 62 mph uses just 8 horsepower. But drivers can only expect hit the highest figures if they make best use of the XL1's 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery.
Performance is either impressive for its economy, or unimpressive for its cost, depending on your outlook on life. With both diesel and electricity working in unison, the 68-horsepower, 103 lb-ft XL1 will reach 62 mph in 12.5 seconds and nudge a limited 99 mph.
Getting there, as we discovered when driving the XL1 for the first time, is kinda noisy, but also "perky" up to around 50 mph.
The first German buyers have already received their cars and order books are now open in the UK. But for the U.S, the XL1 remains a forbidden fruit--it doesn't meet U.S. safety requirements for airbags, structure, or its clever video-camera mirrors.
Thankfully, VW says technologies developed for the XL1 will find their way into the firm's humbler vehicles. Whether any of those will come to the U.S. is another unanswered question...