By on May 23, 2013

VW XL1. Photo courtesy Wired Autopia.

Wired Autopia’s Damon Lavrinc got the chance to drive the Volkswagen XL1 in Germany. Lavrinc, who has a wealth of experience writing about automotive technology and alternative powertrains, gives us a good picture of what it’s like to drive the XL1, from the awkward entry/egress, to the seemingly underpowered air-conditioning system to the lack of a simple iPod connector (because that adds weight, natch). Check it out over at Autopia.

In three weeks, Bertel will return to the scene of his crimes at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, and will drive the XL1 on the same Wolfsburg-to-Berlin trip as Wired, maybe even the same XL1 as Wired. Check it out when he returns. If he does.

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34 Comments on “Volkswagen XL1 First Drive Hits The Web...”


  • avatar
    Russycle

    Help me out here. This state of the art, carbon fiber, crowning achievement of a trillion dollars of R&D, 2-seater weighs in at 1900 pounds, sans iPod adapter. A 1981 Ford Fiesta that seats four in mild discomfort weighs 300 pounds LESS. I guess the VW does look cooler.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Crash the two into each other and see what happens. My bet is that the NVH situation is considerably better in the VW, too. Oh yeah, and there’s that second powertrain: electric motor and attendant batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      VW lost the plot when they went plug-in. The 1L (now XL1) was always supposed to be about making 100 miles on 1L of fuel in a closed energy loop. VW realized it would be long and hard, so they slapped a plug on the side, and proclaimed victory.

      Sad commentary on the modern automobile manufacturer

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        100 kilometer, not miles. Because in countries were they have km’s they often measure fuel consumption in liters per 100km so 1 liter / 100km’s an accessible and easy to understand measurement.

      • 0 avatar
        W.Minter

        +1 (except mls/km ;))
        The XL1 shows the truth about vw engineering.
        They need more than 10 years to develop a 250 units halo car no one will ever buy (lease, fleet & showroom queen only).
        They manage to launch it only months before the mass production BMW i3 goes on sale which offers a similar tech package (carbon fiber, 2 cyl range extender (gas, not diesel)) for half the price and the interior space of a usable car.

    • 0 avatar
      McGilligan

      Not to nitpick, but 10 figures is a billion, not trillion. Still a massive investment in efficiency, but not quite as ridiculous.

      Does anybody know the approximate average cost to bring a new car to market? Just curious how $1 billion stacks up relative to the cost of an all-new car. How much R&D goes into a new generation 3 series? Accord?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    They’re only building 250 copies, and only for Germany and Austria at the moment.

    Anyone driving this in ‘normal’ fashion will certainly not get 261 mpg if they consume 1 extra drop of fuel, and then the whining about false EPA ratings will begin (assuming eventual US sales).

    At 12k miles a year, the Tesla Model S will cost about $400 more to operate. Yet it’s beautiful, cheaper to buy, seats 5, and goes like the wind. Who will really want the XL1, except those who like driving science projects?

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      A Corvette will do about 75% of a Veyron’s top speed for 1/20th the price. To get the best of anything, you by defintion bow to the gods of diminishing returns and throw value for money out the window. I’m pretty sure that this car isn’t intended for anyone other than those who want a science project. If it were, VW would probably plan on building more than 250 of them.

      At one point, the gasoline-powered car was seen as nothing more than a rich playboy’s plaything, too. This is how these sort of things get started.

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        Short, concise and devoid of extraneous detail. You’ve encapsulated in very few words exactly what VW hopes to achieve with this halo car.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @Juniper – I get your point.

        But the press latches onto the ’261 mpg’ thing – that term appears in nearly every headline about the car – as though this is the aspiration of every consumer. It receives road tests in the same manner.

        The Truth About the XL1 is that it’s really just a rolling research project. Since they’ll be leased, I wouldn’t be surprised if VW crushes all of them at the end of the lease – they’re not worth long-term field support.

  • avatar
    redliner

    “Hey Dan, I can see your crack!”
    “Oh yeah, um, I didn’t wear underwear today… You know, to improve my mpg… every gram counts!”

  • avatar
    xantia10000

    2011 called. They want your overuse of the word ‘natch’ back.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’ve seen a lot of talk about this car on the net. But never a mention of price.

    If it sells for 15 grand it might have a shot at being an economic proposition. If it’s 30 grand, then no way….

    • 0 avatar
      henkdevries

      You couldn’t find a price, serious? 1 Google search: vw xl1 price

      “Volkswagen is only building a scant 250 examples, each carrying a price tag of over 100,000 euros.”
      http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/03/volkswagen-xl1/

      From your comment I assume you do not get the idea of this project.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      So you expected a carbon-fibre, ultra-low-production, specialty-built car designed to be the most fuel-efficient in the world while passing current NCAP safety tests to sell for considerably less than a Chevy Volt? You don’t really get business or engineering, do you?

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        OK it’s a science project. Now I understand.
        Somehow I has the mistaken impression this was a production car.
        I’ll spend my 100,000 Euros on a new Tesla AND a Corvette LOL

  • avatar
    henkdevries

    Do people understand this project?
    Polution/costs/dependency on the Middle East/not wasting time at the gas station are all reasons to use less energy for personal transportation.
    Ferrari has it’s FXX and VW has it’s XL1. Both cars tuned for specific performance and both are thus aimed at a specific audience.

    “It’s time to redefine “supercar.”
    According to Damon Lavrinc.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Your a lil out of date, the middle east is no longer the biggest exporter of oil.

      I’d rather waste 5 minutes at a gas station then 2 hours or w/e at a motel.

      Carbon isn’t a pollutant, many cars today put our cleaner air then they take in.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Let me restate that first one,

        For the US it is no longer the chief exporter.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        “Carbon isn’t a pollutant, many cars today put our cleaner air then they take in.”

        Ah yes, so if I connect a hose from the exhaust to the car interior where I sit breathing deeply believing your statement, you mean I won’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning?

        Or that the engine also produces CO2? You have seen the EC version of mpg where cars are rated by number of grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer, right?

        No? Keep reading.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          You realize you just tried to justify your argument saying CO is a pollutant no?

          Is fire also a pollutant?

          Do you know what air quality means?
          Can’t believe you need this explained….

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I think the diesel hybrid tech is making it’s way to production vehicles already, look at the VW Bluecross SUV.

  • avatar
    AFX

    Interesting how things have come full circle. Ferdinand Porsche developed the first gas-electric hybrid car back in 1901 for Lohner, Ferdinand Pieche is Porsche’s grandson, and now Piech has developed a diesel-electric hybrid car. Not suprising that Piech would develop a low-drag car like this one, as he was always a stickler for low-drag cars when he was running Porsche’s racing department. Same thing with the carbon fiber chassis, when he was developing the Porsche racing cars he was always pushing for lighter materials to be used like titanium, and the 1971 LeMans winning car had a magnesium frame. If I recall correctly there was a experimental trial version of the 917 engine fan that pulled air up from under the car to cool the engine and gain some downforce too, but it didn’t cool the engine enough.

    The fact that the car will be leased is no big deal, considering they didn’t let the public own the Chrsler turbine powered cars, or the GM EV-1 either. GM cheated though by having AeroVironment do a lot of the development work for them.

  • avatar
    jberger

    Looks like VW just built a Bricklin, I’m guessing it will be just as popular too.

    I love moonshot engineering, but this is just crap, just like the Bricklin.

  • avatar
    niky

    VW will probably “lease” every single one of those XL1s. Hell, they could sell probably one or two thousand a year at that price.

    It’s slow, pointless as a means of saving money, and ridiculously over-engineered.

    But it looks fantastic. And it’s cool as hell. Which means, again, they’ll lease every single one of those 250, and then some.

  • avatar

    Don’t cover one set of wheels if you aren’t going to cover the other.

    Think:Irobot’s Audi RSQ

    • 0 avatar
      AFX

      How about a bathtub Nash instead ?.

      I wonder how this one would stack up against the junkyard Metropolitan in a drag race or on a road course ?.

      Maybe we could have Bertel do a shootout test review between this VW, a Metropolitan, a Crosley, and a Goggomobil ?.

  • avatar
    PCP

    Why should anyone want a specific iStuff connector? And which one, old or new?

    Look at the numbers first:

    http://techland.time.com/2013/04/16/ios-vs-android/

    A simple USB or line in connector ought to do the trick.

  • avatar
    wumpus

    It’s a supercar. A weird, new type of supercar, but still a supercar.

    Car exists primarily to be seen getting in and out of (check)
    Car made of exotic materials (check)
    Excessive price is a main selling point (check)
    High price still subsidized for Porcshe/Peitch family & friends? (check)
    Purpose built for something wildly pointless that makes it useless as a daily driver (check).


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