VW XL-1: we drive the future
Tom Ford drives the 313mpg hypercar right across Britain. For about 20 pence of diesel
Posted: 03 Feb 2014
Move off, and the XL-1 slides away with a vaguely sci-fi whine. The car can manage about 30 miles in EV-only mode, relying solely on the 25bhp electric motor mounted above the driven rear axle. Accelerate hard, and a third clutch (there are two already in the DSG 'box) engages the 800cc, 45bhp two-cylinder TDI diesel, and it thuds into life like a tiny Evinrude outboard, making an odd but strangely appealing throb. It's basically half of the four-pot 1.6 TDI, with a crank-driven balancer shaft to even out the twin-cylinder thrum. The steering is unassisted and heavy, but the car itself feels... light. Low impact. The XL-1's mass of 795kg might not be impressive in absolute terms, but, for a working hybrid, it's nothing short of extraordinary. And the way that it moves is astonishing: lift off on even the slightest gradient, and the XL-1 barely slows. It slices through the air as if oiled past the molecules. On a level bit of ground, a steady 62mph requires just 8bhp to maintain. That's not much. It's comfortable, if not overly quiet, and pick-up from 60mph is genuinely impressive - if you're not having to force your way past the air, then you can maintain and increase velocity in a much more elegant fashion.