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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Volkswagen XL1

Overall verdict
It’s like the Jetson’s finally got a daily driver. A brilliant, boundary-pushing eco-hypercar.


Super-cool looks, non-existent tax, potential economy, general brilliance


Quite a specific ability spectrum


What is it?

Volkswagen’s pet high-mpg project that aims for less than one-litre of fuel consumption per 100km travelled. The XL1 achieves it, with a potential for more than 300mpg. It’s a bit like a tame spaceship: wing doors, offset two-person cabin, tiny TV screens instead of rear-view mirrors, mid-mounted 800cc two-cylinder diesel (basically half a 1.6-litre TDI), mated to a 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery and 25bhp electric motor sitting above the driven rear wheels. It’s more than a little bizarre-looking with those faired-in rear wheels, and is actually pretty tiny – the same size as a supermini, except much lower. The exotic continues under the skin, too - pretty much everything is CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic), the wheels are magnesium, other bits aluminium. The tyres are still rubber, though.