By on October 12, 2017

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerToday’s Rare Ride is a nearly-new example of the very limited production Volkswagen XL1. Equal parts efficiency and rarity, this is the first Volkswagen product featured in our Rare Rides series, and probably the most efficient vehicle we’ll ever see here.

Come check out what 260 miles per gallon looks like.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerThe lead-up to the production XL1 started with two separate prototype generations. In 2002 Volkswagen debuted a concept called the VW 1-Litre. While not intended for production, this prototype served as the basis for a second generation that was more production-ready. The second model, known as the L1, debuted in 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. But consumers’ hopes for production of the L1 were short-lived, as the XL1 we see here was announced in 2011.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerAfter a couple of years of decision making, XL1 production began in 2013. Volkswagen stated it would build just 250 total cars — the company would retain 50 examples and sell the remaining 200 units to eager, efficient customers.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerUnlike prior versions featuring tandem seating, the XL1 adopted a more traditional and consumer-friendly side-by-side seating position. Butterfly doors allow access to an interior which looks surprisingly normal for a vehicle of this type.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerA diesel plug-in hybrid, the XL1 uses a two-cylinder, 0.8-liter turbodiesel engine working in connection with a hybrid battery. The fueled engine produces 47 horsepower, with the electric motor providing an additional 27 horses.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerDespite the slight power figures and engine size, the XL1 is not all that slow. 0-62 mph arrives in 11.9 seconds, with a top speed of 98 miles per hour. Considering the efficiency achieved here, this performance seems quite an achievement. Credit these figures to the low drag coefficient of 0.189, and a weight figure of 1,753 pounds. For reference, that weight is quite close to a VW Beetle from the 1950s.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerThe XL1 is rear-drive, and the seven-speed DSG transmission is not the CVT your author expected.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerFor scale, the XL1 is roughly the size of a VW Polo, but with a much lower roof. Even children are taller than the XL1, which is just 46.6 inches in height.

Image: 2015 Volkswagen XL1, image via sellerThis particular example just popped up at a dealer in England with just 10 miles on the odometer. That means it has the same fuel in the tank as it did in the factory, assuming Volkswagen put four ounces of diesel in it. Original asking price in 2013 was $146,000. The dealer is asking $131,646, which is quite a bit of depreciation after 10 miles of use.

[Images via seller]

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35 Comments on “Rare Rides: This Extremely Rare 2015 Volkswagen XL1 Gets 260 Miles Per Gallon...”

  • avatar

    The production numbers make me worry about things like tire availability, should anyone ever want to turn this huge waste of resources into a lesser waste of resources.

    • 0 avatar

      Front tires are 115mm wide and the rears are 155mm. The BMW i3 runs 155s but on a larger wheel diameter.

      The person that can drop $130k on a car like this probably doesn’t worry about parts availability.

      • 0 avatar

        $130K is a drop in the bucket when you need a custom tire size made. Ask Coker how much it costs them to put an obsolete tire size back into limited production. This car has two tire sizes unlikely to be offered, and tires age out even while they’re sitting in warehouses.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Does it have the cheat software, and what is the court’s ruling on fixing it?

  • avatar

    I think this is one of the best looking cars ever, real form=function. I appreciate the discipline of keeping the combustion HP low and boosting efficiency everywhere else. Momentum would be the driving strategy here. Which, strangely reminds of the 78 Malibu I owned. It had an underpowered malaise-era 305ci, and way too tall gearing “un”-matched to a 4-spped manual. Thus, driving that car was also all about preserving momentum. Sometimes a fun challenge.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Oh, those 70s and 80s V8s. My grandmother’s ’85 Buick Riviera, with the Oldsmobile 307 electronic-carbureted V8, was not anything close to “fast”.

  • avatar

    Let’s see…47 hp plus 27 hp = 74 hp total. Same figure as the flat four in my ’80 Vanagon. And I could haul all six of my spawn plus their junk. Of course top end was around 74 mph and I only obtained around 20 mpg.

  • avatar

    come on depreciation!!! come on!

  • avatar

    I absolutely appreciate the aerodynamic engineering that goes into building a car *so* purpose-driven and single-minded as the XL1. In college I had several classes on aerodynamics and the textbook example was Ford’s experimental Probe IV (of no relation to the production model).

    Things like flexible front-wheel spats that flexed with the steering inputs, and exhaust exiting at the very rear of the focused teardrop shape to create a thermocline boundary layer, were absolutely fascinating.

    Even first-gen Insights display a lot of the lessons learned from aerospace and those early demonstrators. It’s as pure in function as any race vehicle, it simply aims for efficiency instead of acceleration or cornering ability.

  • avatar

    Probably less carbon pollution than any EV fueled by electrons from fossil fuel power plants. I wish they’d mass produce it for an everyman price, and offer it with a stick. And give it more rear window.

  • avatar

    What do they store in the plastic case behind the battery?

  • avatar

    I really think we should appreciate the technical achievement here, as well as the fact that it doesn’t look stupid. I wonder how much money they lost on each one they made at this price.

  • avatar
    Ce he sin

    I’ve only sat behind the wheel of a VW once in my life and as it happens it was an XL1.

    Sadly driving it out of the showroom wasn’t an option.

  • avatar

    Ha, in the article on the Scirocco earlier today, I said I liked my ’75 at the time, but would not want to be driving a 78 HP car any more. And then this beautiful 74 HP VW comes up! I may have to rethink that (though it would help if it went for the $3000 I paid for the Scirocco).

  • avatar

    I’m disappointed that no one has commented / complained about the number of years of driving needed to pay back a $130,000 / 260 mpg car versus a vw polo.

    • 0 avatar

      This wasn’t meant as cost-efficient transportation, but as a showcase vehicle: look what we can do, *ONE* litre / 100 km, and no, it isn’t a study or a show car, you can *BUY* it!

      Pity that such fuel-efficient designs (and I include the much less radical Lupo and Audi A2 3L TDI models here) are not of interest any more, thanks to the EV frenzy. Did you notice that all that’s ever discussed with EVs is range, not actual energy efficiency? Sort of like never worrying about gas mileage, provided the tank is big enough.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s fair. I think it’s because the cost is lower relative to gas (and less transparent since you’re not swiping a card to pay at the pump every week, literally shoving it in your face) and all the cars are roughly in the 30 KWH/100 miles range.

        At average 12 cents a kilowatt that means you’re using 4500 kWH a year to drive 15000 miles at a cost of $540. Over 12 months that adds about $45 to your electric bill – which is a meaningful bump but if you own a house fits into what most owners consider a “normal” month to month variance so it pretty quickly fits in psychologically and is viewed as free.

        Compare that to now where $50 fillups are getting closer to the norm again at $2.50 a gallon – and as mentioned above having to go through a physical act of payment reminds people of the cost!

      • 0 avatar

        “Did you notice that all that’s ever discussed with EVs is range…?”

        To be fair, its because up until recently, EV range was very limited. Also, finding a place to charge it is not as easy as finding a place to buy gas.

        You can leave your house with 1/4 tank thinking that will provide enough “range”, then your significant other calls and needs something picked up in another town. Your “range” is 75 miles, the trip will be 120 miles. So, what to do? Oh, look, a Chevron, and a Shell, oh and there’s a Mobile, and next to it a 76. Golly, there’s even a Walmart with a gas station in the parking lot. Geeze, missed the exit, oh well, there’s a Petro truck stop at the next one, and a Love’s truck stop on the other side. Damn, you have dozens of choices where you can “extend your range” in just a few minutes. It isn’t that easy with an EV, at least not yet and not in as many places throughout the country.

        We don’t worry about the range of our gas (or diesel) vehicles because we know we will see 100s of places on a given trip to quickly refuel and thus replenish our range back to 100% in just a few minutes.

        There are very few places in the U.S. where gas stations are hard to come by. I have been in some of those places, and I was concerned about making sure I had enough fuel for the trip before getting too far away from a fuel source. I imagine this is typical of an EV owner. Will I be able to make it? Can I recharge on the other side? What if I’m detoured?

        But, the vast majority of roads we travel on are littered with many sources of fuel. Liquid fuel, not charging ports for EVs.

        If your regular driving takes you far away from a charging source, you would want an EV that has sufficient range to comfortably make the trip, including instances where you may have to drive further than normal, or what was planned. Such instances as being forced to take another route due to unexpected road closure, having to go out of your way to pick up someone or something, and so on. That’s why people are concerned with range of an EV. Now that the Chevy Bolt and similar EVs are hitting the market, its less and less of an issue…depending on where you live and drive, of course.

    • 0 avatar

      To me, this is the Veyron of efficiency. (coincidentally also a VW product).

      As Corey mentioned, I’m certain they lost a ridiculous amount of money to build these technology demonstrators. They’re essentially show cars.

      I’d love to know what the warranty was like…

  • avatar

    “Despite the slight power figures and engine size, the XL1 is not all that slow. 0-62 mph arrives in 11.9 seconds, with a top speed of 98 miles per hour. Considering the efficiency achieved here, this performance seems quite an achievement.”

    0-62 in twelve seconds is painfully slow in today’s world. “Considering” means you’re excusing it. 260 mpg is certainly impressive, but the performance is unrealistic. It’s slower than the slowest car on the market today.

    • 0 avatar

      Only in the United States of Too Much Engine. The 60 bhp, base model VW Up takes a leisurely 15.2 secs for 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) and tops out at 160 km/h (100 mph). Even a base model VW Golf (1.2 TSI) isn’t much quicker than the EL1.

    • 0 avatar

      This may come as a surprise to you, but there are plenty of cars on the road that are not 2017s, and have similar (or worse) performance figures.

      When I’m out west, especially in Washington, I see plenty of sub-100 hp cars that somehow, miraculously are being driven around as though the world won’t end if they can’t get to 60 as fast as your car can. Lots of old 1980s Tercels and Escorts, even 1990s Metros and Aspires, in other words, plenty of very low powered, slow cars that still manage to get their owners to work or the store everyday. None manage 260 MPG, unless they’re just running at idle while parked on the back of a flatbed that’s getting 12 MPG going downhill with a tail wind.

      Corey wasn’t “excusing” anything, he was merely putting it in perspective. You want 260 mpg AND to out accelerate a 2017 Civic between red lights? No problem. As soon as I get back from my weekly trip to Mars, I’ll build you one. That’s assuming I’m not stuck at Mars Customs AGAIN. Those little green men are suspicious little thugs.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m surprised on one has mentioned the obvious choice, which is an XL1 with an air-cooled flat-four.

  • avatar

    I’d love to buy this thing and try a Hayabusa conversion. This idea has been brewing inside my mind ever since I first saw a XL1.

  • avatar

    Corey, I wish I could email you directly, but anyway, I found a unicorn that may make for an interesting Rare Ride. Its a BMW TurboDiesel-powered Lincoln Mark VII!

  • avatar

    So we can spend a fortune to save money… Aptera is dead, this is like that, Aptera had better aero. They need to build cars with better aero like these, most of the saving is in aero and weight. It’s pretty ridiculous we can’t buy tiny diesel hybrid powered commuter cars, the all electric stuff can’t go far enough yet, needs at least on board generating.

  • avatar

    This looks like the cab that Biff took in BttF2.

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