235-Mpg 2014 VW XL1 Caught in Spy Photos

Volkswagen may have refused to sign just-announced U.S. efficiency mandates in protest to alleged discriminatory practices, but its Euro-market 235 mpg XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid caught road testing is partial proof VW does not intend to be left behind.

You may have seen this 2-seater around when it was showcased and test driven at the 2011 Qatar Motor Show and where at the time the prototype was said to deliver 261 mpg (0.9 l/100 km) on the European test cycle.

The current version shot by spy photographers is based around the same 800-cc, twin-cylinder turbo diesel delivering 48 horsepower and 88 pound-feet torque plus a 30 horsepower electric motor and seven-speed DSG transmission.

Performance is said to be in the neighborhood of 0-62 mph in 11.9 seconds, and top speed is limited to 99 mph. All electric range is estimated at 24 miles.


Its rear wheels – shown exposed in testing – ought to have aerodynamic shrouds back in place when the car built with carbon fiber reinforced polymer on the MQB platform is launched in Germany as a limited-production offering in 2013.

The show version – a third generation effort – had measured at 153-inches long, 66-inches wide, 45-inches high, and weight was around 1,753 pounds.

VW XL1 Concept

XL1 concept photo from 2011.

The limited-production XL1 ought to be seen as early as some time in late 2012, and inside and out it appears to be staying close to the concept.

Given the “261” and “235” mpg numbers are based on the European cycle, it may wind up with somewhere between 150 mpg and 200 mpg on the EPA cycle. If it does, this will be quite a feat all by itself, although the formula to break beyond current limits looks feasible: a tiny fuel sipper, extremely low weight and aerodynamic drag coefficient of only 0.186 will perhaps triple the 50 mpg offered by a Toyota Prius, exceed also 95 MPGe for the plug-in Prius, and set a new standard for hybrids.

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  • MS

    This seems more a concept that a production car, and VW is known to produce some very limited production cars to call them as “production” but then nobody can find then on the dealers.

    Not sure how 78hp (combined) will be enough for this type of car, as only 48hp is availble from the ICE.

    Sorry about being skeptical, but I always see VW hybrids as clouds, you can see them but you cant touch them. They never sell much.

  • Van

    Certainly a segment of the population will accept zero to 60 in more than 11 seconds, but lots of folks complain about lack of acceleration in cars that take more than 9 seconds.

    I think they would need to explain the mileage say 235 with wheel covers in place and something less with the wheels exposed to sell that design feature.

    Since it is a plug in with over 20 miles of range, perhaps a comparison with the Ford Fusion Energi would be appropriate. Interior volume, trunk volume, weight, mileage, etc.

    BTW, this design comcept reinforces the need for very efficient engines coupled with significant electic motor horsepower. Imagine this diesel in the Volt. It would have the volt’s performance, but get at least twice the range extended mileage (i.e. perhaps near 60 MPG) and over 500 miles of range.

    So why didn’t GM figure this out??

  • MS

    Van – your question about GM is pertinent.

    I think they will have their reasons, or they designed the car for the US marked that do not accept as well the diesel as the European market.

    As that for GM would be pretty easy to use a diesel engine, as they have the Opel (European brand) engines. Opel sells in Europe cars with 1.3l diesel engines with 95hp.

  • Party McAnimal

    I don’t understand any of your arguments above. Why shouldn’t we strive to get as much MPG out of cars as possible? The old school thinking that Americans desire acceleration is a tired one. I don’t like paying $4.00+ for gas…I don’t like spending hundreds of dollars every single month…but I have no choice…because we are forced to consume gas…what else is there? We either need competitive fuel options readily available to create price wars for market share, or cars need to give consumers gasoline powered options on whether or not we want performance or 100+ mpg practicality. Let us decide…not the car companies decide for us.

  • Van

    Hi Party McAnimal, in order for vehicles to be available, they must sell sufficiently to cover the cost of production. 12,000 Volts a year might not be enough over the long haul. So by satisfying an irrational desire, get up to merging speed on a short on-ramp, a few more Volts might be sold. So they put an ample electric motor in the Volt. All good. But do we need that 1.4 liter ICE, or would a 48 hp diesel be ample to operate the Volt’s generator. Almost!

    So I am saying we can have both, market appeal through performance and burn less gas or diesel. Right now we have lots of hybrids with needlessly large ICE and needlessly small electric motors. The Volt’s design is far better with the large motor, but they blew it in my opinion by not coupling it with a small light and efficient ICE.

  • jsamp

    You can have both, you just can’t afford them. A car maker’s dilemma is “how can we make these and make a profit?” If they can’t make a profit, they won’t even try. Combining diesel and hybrid technologies will make for an expensive car that few people will buy. The fewer people that buy them means less likely that a car maker can make any profit. Proof? Volts should be flying off the lots, but at ~$40K, very few are actually being bought. They would be even more expensive with diesel engines.

    McAnimal, There are plenty of options out there, you are not held to gasoline. Nat Gas, electric, hydrogen, fuel cell, biofuels are all available, you probably don’t want to spend the money for them.

  • ACAgal

    I like the the fuel savings, but those doors won’t work in any side by side parking space or garage.

  • John D.

    Three things are needed: Safety, Efficiency, Longevity. Sounds like they have the efficiency part down, we will have to wait on the safety part.

    The Longevity is the one I question. With a conventional car, 50% of the energy a car will use in its life is used in the production of the car. (Refining raw materials etc.) With a super efficient car, one might expect that percentage to be even higher. So, to get real bang for the buck, the car has to last a long time. Otherwise, you are simply using the energy in a different place. (The factory.)

    To gain efficiency, parts are made thinner, weigh less, and lighter materials are used. With a 300% or more increase in efficiency, one would expect some real compromises were made.

  • Party McAnimal

    I see all your points, but here is the thing…does the Volt really need to cost $40,000? Or more importantly, will it always cost $40,000?

    I sure would like to see the breakdown of costs from Chevy. Any new technology is going to cost in the beginning…The 1st Blue rays that cost over $300..now you can get them for a third that. Cell phone minute charges were out the roof in the beginning…now you can get unlimited data plans for a fraction of what my mid 90’s bills used to be. I can name a thousand more examples.

    Once the EV/hybrid/alt fuel technologies become more standard than fringe, you will have more factories overseas vying for a piece of the pie, producing cheaper parts, much like what happened with solar panels…thus driving down costs.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    The 40 mile EV range of the Volt beats the VW’s 24 miles so most would get better mileage from the Volt….


  • Vikingted

    24 miles during the warm seasons, but what do you get when the weather drops below freezing? I could see buying this vehicle, I would never get permission (PW) due this being a Volkswagen. We had a wonderful Passat that went thru 5 timing belts in 79000 miles. My wife says never again a VW will be in our household.