Looks like a supercar, drives like a Smart car.

With the appearance of a supercar from the future and a price tag to match, the VW XL-1 certainly succeeds in subverting all expectations.

Despite looking like it’s capable of breakneck speeds, it’s not. Rather, the XL-1 is quite slow with a top speed of 98 mph and the ability to accelerate from 0-62mph in 14.3 seconds.

Although one may not consider it to be a supercar by the common definition after learning this, the XL-1 is undoubtedly super, just in a different way. It achieves what no other car can with technologies that few other cars have. What is the XL-1’s superpower? A fuel efficiency rating of over 280 miles per gallon!

Volkswagen XL1

Originally priced at around £98,500 and with only 200 models made available to purchase, the XL-1 is a very special car. The car’s odd name is derived from its primary objective; to be able to travel 100km whilst consuming less than 1 litre of diesel fuel whilst still being roadworthy and practical. The car succeeded in its goal and also succeeded commercially, with the number of interested buyers exceeding the number of units available for sale, resulting in VW having to conduct a draw in order to assign the limited number of units to buyers.

Volkswagen XL1

The idea of this car (being able to travel 100km using just 1 litre of fuel or less) had been floating around at VW for over 10 years since the first concept for it was driven in 2002. Eventually, all the innovations and designs for achieving this goal materialised into the XL-1 we know today.

Using a hybrid powertrain, the XL-1 has a 2-cylinder 800cc diesel engine and a 20 kW electric motor, producing 47 hp and 27 hp respectively for a combined power output of just 74 horsepower. Despite being an economy car on paper, in the flesh, the XL-1 is quite clearly a supercar.

Volkswagen XL1

With a height roughly as low as a Lamborghini Huracan at just 1,153mm, those lucky enough to enter one of these fantastically weird machines would have the full supercar experience. Not only does it sit low to the ground but also features huge butterfly doors, grand enough to cause a scene at any car park and once inside, occupants can experience a staggered seating position, with the passenger seat located slightly further back than the driver’s seat.

Volkswagen XL1

It also, unfortunately, has the visibility of a supercar, with digital wing mirrors that use cameras and a total lack of a rear window, making reversing incredibly difficult. And then there’s the carbon fibre. The XL-1 is absolutely laden with exposed carbon fibre panels which can be seen all over the interior and in the boot well including on the steering wheel (which has a flat bottom!), side sills, dashboard and centre floor column. 

Volkswagen XL1

If that isn’t enough to convince you that the Volkswagen XL-1 doesn’t qualify as both an economy car and a supercar, just look at the exterior styling. Gorgeous teardrop shape, ultra-modern lights and vents on the back of the roof where the engine is because you guessed it, it’s a mid-engine car!

There’s no doubt that the XL-1 would get more looks than a car with ten times the horsepower thanks to its futuristic and wonderful weirdness.

Let us know your thoughts on the XL-1, in the comments.

If you enjoyed this, you may also like: ‘Meet the SCV8 Jaguar X-Type

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