With only 250 examples due to be made in total, Volkswagen’s futuristic XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid zukunftswagen is probably one of the most exclusive plug-in cars on the market today.
Volkswagen has already begun deliveries of the XL1 to a few — and we do mean a few — lucky customers in Germany, but from this autumn the plug-in hybrid fuel sipper will officially go on sale in the UK for the princely sum of £99,000.
A total of just thirty XL1 examples will head across the English Channel later this year, with six cars already reserved for the six people who placed an order ‘at whatever cost’ with Volkswagen long before the price was announced. That leaves a total of twenty four cars still looking for a home.
Because the Volkswagen XL1 is technically classed as a limited production vehicle, Volkswagen has been able to circumnavigate the usual European regulations requiring all cars to have wing mirrors on both sides of the vehicle. Instead, Volkswagen has mounted a video camera to each door, relaying the feed from each to a corresponding video monitor mounted on the inside of each door. Smaller and more aerodynamic than a traditional mirror, the cameras help the XL1 achieve its aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.189, boosting the car’s efficiency.
Under the hood — on in this case sandwiched behind the passenger compartment and a tiny, tiny boot — there’s a 47 horsepower, 800cc two-cylinder TDI diesel engine and a 20 kilowatt electric motor. Combined, the two power units produce 55 kilowatts, which is sent to the narrow rear wheels through a modified seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) gearbox.
Designed from the ground up as an exercise in frugality, the Volkswagen XL1 has a monocoque and body panels made in carbon fibre reinforced plastic, while all the windows except its laminated windscreen are made of polycarbonate instead of glass.
When we drove the XL1 last autumn, we found its all-electric mode lacking in power, although believe that with some careful driving it might just be possible to hit the claimed 31 miles of range Volkswagen cites per charge. In electric mode, the driving experience was predictably quiet and refined, with the low drag coefficient resulting in a quiet ride.
Fire up the two-cylinder engine for extra power however, and the noise from the engine — just behind your head — makes itself known in the cabin with a continual rattle.
At the time, we noted that most XL1s will likely be destined for life in a car collection somewhere rather than being driven on a daily basis. With a lack of on-board charger — the charger lives off the vehicle to help keep weight down — the XL1 isn’t exactly the most practical of everyday drivers anyway.
But what do you think? Would you be tempted to buy one if you had the money, or do you view it as overpriced and pointless — especially when a fully-tricked out Tesla Model S can be purchased for the same price?
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