Rumor: Volkswagen’s Futuristic XL1 Plug-in Hybrid Fuel-Sipper To Get Four-Seat Makeover

It’s sleek, super sexy, and incredibly honest in its feedback and road handling. It’s also incredibly fuel efficient and super futuristic — if a little underpowered.

Now Volkswagen’s $100,000 super-exclusive, limited-edition XL1 two-seat plug-in diesel hybrid is about to get a makeover says UK motoring publication AutoCar: a makeover which could transform it from a fun yet impractical two-seat coupe into a four-seat efficiency champ capable of cross-shopping with Honda’s upcoming 2015 hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The Volkswagen XL1 seats just two -- but what about a four-seat XL2? There are rumors such a car is on its way.

The Volkswagen XL1 seats just two — but what about a four-seat XL2? There are rumors such a car is on its way.

AutoCar quotes sources close to Volkswagen who say that VW is keen to bring the ultra-efficient drivetrain and aerodynamic qualities of the limited-production XL1 into a more affordable, practical segment of the market. And it will do so with a car rumoured to be called the Volkswagen XL2.

Like the XL1, the rumoured XL2 would feature a two-cylinder diesel engine and an on-board electric motor, offering all-electric, and blended power modes. Given the additional weight of two extra adult passengers however, the LX2 would need to likely upgrade its engine capacity from the current 800cc, 47 horsepower diesel engine to something a little larger, with the tiny 20 kilowatt electric motor also getting a suitable upgrade.

Must-Read: Our First-Hand Review of the Super-Exclusive Volkswagen XL1 Plug-in Hybrid

One possibility is to use the larger 30 kilowatt-electric motor found in the Twin-Up concept we told you about earlier this year. With the XL1’s tiny diesel engine and an electric motor shoehorned under its elongated hood, the Twin-Up was forced to use a larger 30 kilowatt electric motor due to the heavier weight of the VW UP’s body compared to the XL1’s lightweight aluminium and carbon-fibre construction.

Expect the on-board battery pack to get an upgrade too, moving from the 5.5 kilowatt-hours of the XL1 to something a little larger. Given Volkswagen’s target weight for the XL2 is rumoured to be around 940 kg — just 145 kilos heavier than the current XL1 — we suspect you shouldn’t expect a much larger pack.

In addition to tweaking the power train to make it more powerful, Volkswagen would have to completely redesign the XL1’s lightweight carbon fibre tub, wheelbase and body panels in order to squeeze in an extra two seats. While we’d like to see the existing upward-hinging doors carry over to a four-seat version, AutoCar says we should expect a set of rear-hinging suicide doors for the back seat passengers similar to the ones found in the BMW i3 electric car.

The larger XL2 could use the same 30 kilowatt motor found in the Twin Up concept, rather than the XL1's 20 kilowatt motor.

The larger XL2 could use the same 30 kilowatt motor found in the Twin Up concept, rather than the XL1’s 20 kilowatt motor.

The goal, says Volkswagen sources, is to produce a super-efficient plug-in hybrid which can match Honda’s upcoming super-efficient Fuel Cell Vehicle in terms of fuel economy. That means a fuel economy goal somewhere near the 1 litre per 100km (238 MPG U.S.) set by Volkswagen when it started to design the XL1.

Even with four seats however, don’t expect the XL2 to be all that practical if it ends up reaching production. Like the XL1, luggage space is likely to play second fiddle to fuel economy, meaning it will be primarily a city-based car rather than a long-distance tourer. With weight being paramount, there’s a chance too that like the XL1, the XL2 won’t have an on-board charger, meaning no way of charging it when out and about, despite its standard-looking Type 2 charge socket.

Would you want a four-seat version of the XL2, complete with rear-view cameras, super sleek design and futuristic looks? And how much would you pay for it?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Esl1999 .

    So basically, Volkswagen will be producing what the Big 3 Detroit automakers were working on and produced in prototype form back in the mid-late 90’s. It only took 20 years. Better late then never.

  • Does anyone know if some of the new electrics will be made at the only US LEED auto assembly, Chattanooga?nnAlso, is the Tesla factory joining them soon in solar and a green remodel to keep up? That would be excellent.nn