Never mind the Speedtail – this is the carbon‑fibre two seater you need to buy
A carbon-fibre-clad lightweight two-seater with gullwing doors, hybrid powertrain and exceptional aerodynamics might sound like the latest from McLaren, but this car is about as far from a supercar as you can get…
It’s the Volkswagen XL1, a VW concept car tech-fest made real with a run of just 200 cars produced between 2013-15. There aren’t many of the environmental pioneers in the UK and, despite being street legal, they make a rare sight on our roads whenever one of breaks cover.
Which one of them has just done, ahead of its auction at the NEC Classic Car Show on Saturday November 10th. The white pearl XL1 up for grabs is VW UK’s own car and has covered just 79 miles.
Even in today’s fast-moving automotive world the XL1’s resolutely forward-looking approach to motoring guarantees it a prominent place in VW history. For VW diehards this is a rare chance to add a significant and influential VW technology showcase to their collections, something reflected in the XL1’s guide price of £100,000.
For that you will get a car with several claims to fame as well as a machine usable on UK roads. Everything about it is taken to the extreme in order to fulfil its brief of most efficient road car ever.
With its bar-of-soap looks, enclosed rear wheels and digital rear-facing cameras instead of mirrors, it is incredibly aerodynamically efficient; its Cd is just 0.186. Low drag doesn’t get any lower than that and at the time of its launch it was claimed to be the world's most aerodynamic road-going production car.
The two-seater with carbon-fibre reinforced polymer body weighs in at just 795kg. Magnesium wheels, ceramic brake discs and aluminium suspension parts help keep weight low, while special low-rolling resistance Michelin tyres do their bit to make every horsepower count. VW at the time claimed that in windless conditions the XL1 needed just 8bhp to maintain 62mph.
In fact the XL1 has 48bhp to call on, delivered courtesy of an 800cc two-cylinder diesel engine, plus another 27bhp available from an electric motor. People who drove it at its launch said the combination in a super-slippery car weighing so little gave it lively feel; 0-62mph was officially 12.7secs and top speed governed at 100mph. As a plug-in hybrid, it could also glide around on zero emissions electric power, for up to 30 miles at a time.
It is a shame VW never got around to making the high performance version – to be powered by the 187bhp engine from the Ducati 1199 Panigale superbike – but compensation comes in the form of a combined fuel economy of… 313mpg. CO2 emissions are 21g/km.
Of the 200 made it was said that up to 30 were coming to the UK, each priced at £98,515. We’ve never seen one on the road, never seen one at all in fact since it was a highlight of VW’s display at the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard a few years ago.
Silverstone Auctions, which is selling the car at the NEC Classic Car Show, has put a guide price of £95-115,000 on it.