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Will a 263-MPG Volkswagen See Production?

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

Meet the Volkswagen XL1. With just 75 horsepower and an ultra-aerodynamic design inspired by dolphins, it can achieve more than 250 miles per gallon. And according to Volkswagen, it actually may have a chance at getting built.

Released last week at the Qatar Auto Show, the plug-in hybrid XL1 features a miniature two-cylinder diesel engine combined with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, which renders the electric engine capable of powering the otherworldly coupe for up to 22 miles on its own. The 0.8-liter diesel engine produces just 48 horsepower, while the electric motor puts out 27 more. The diminutive engines are mated to Volkswagen’s seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission, with an end result of up to 263 miles per gallon.

Featuring gullwing doors and futuristic styling, it appeared that the XL1 was just a concept car – a design exercise intended to show off Volkswagen’s increasingly eco-friendly technological advancements. But according to German publication Automobilwoche, Volkswagen has plans to actually put the XL1 into production, albeit in extremely limited numbers for specific markets.

Reportedly, the XL1 would first be sold in Germany, followed soon after by China and the United States. More uncertain are the microcar’s exact production numbers, or whether the its cutting-edge powerplant would see production.

Regardless of production uncertainties, those that have driven the XL1 show car have praised its usability. While show cars are frequently little more than rolling display pieces barely prepared for driving, the XL1 has been lauded for its everyday drivability, with Autoweek saying it “hardly feels like a multimillion-dollar one-off prototype fresh off the show floor.” The magazine went on to comment that the XL1 feels “like a production VW in many ways, except for the nonassisted brakes and steering.”

Originally released at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show as the “L1,” for “one-liter,” the updated XL1 can be seen as an evolution of Volkswagen’s desire to build an extremely efficient, yet practical, small car. Release dates and approximate pricing have not yet been announced.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Will a 263-MPG Volkswagen See Production? - Autotrader