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Volkwagen XL1 makes US debut

Fri, 04 Oct 2013

The Volkswagen XL1 hyper fuel-efficient vehicle debuted in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Thursday at the 23rd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference. At first we wondered why we weren’t invited, and then we realized it was because of our proclivities for V8s and turning rubber into smoke.

VW says the XL1 will get the equivalent of 261 mpg on the American cycle, and can cover 32 miles on electricity alone. The XL1 houses an 800-cc, that’s 0.8-liter, two-cylinder diesel engine making 46 hp with an electric motor that adds 27 hp. Quarter mile times will not be low. Both the engine and the motor sit behind the passenger compartment and drive the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch unit. A 5.5-kWh lithium-ion battery stores and delivers the charge.

The XL1 is smaller than it looks in pictures, it’s actually shorter and thinner than a VW Polo, the company’s current smallest car. Its roofline is also lower than a Porsche Boxster by 5.1 inches. The first version, shown in 2002, actually used a tandem passenger setup, for better aerodynamics.

The XL1 tips the scales at a scant 1,753 pounds and is capable of getting to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds, top speed is 99 mpg.

VW Group chairman Martin Winterkorn said the car would be available by 2013 with an “affordable price.” We’re guessing it’ll be out before Christmas, with a price somewhere around $50,000. Any more than that, and even some of the more well-to-do hippies in San Francisco won’t be able to afford it.

Click here to check out our first impressions of the XL1; we tested it in April.

By Jake Lingeman