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Volkswagen XL1 – The Most Fuel Efficient Car Ever

Volkswagen XL1 - The Most Fuel Efficient Car Ever

We have heard or seen the two-seater Volkswagen XL1 in the past starting from its first unveiling to the public in 2002 by Dr. Ferdinand Piech when he drove the concept vehicle between Wolfsburg and Hamburg. From the onset the VW XL1 has been touted as a super-efficient vehicle and it seems Volkswagen has delivered on their promise of building the most fuel efficient production car in the world.

The claimed fuel consumption of the VW XL1 is 0.9L/100km and thanks to its plug-in-hybrid system, the two-seater can also cover a distance of up to 50km in all-electric mode.

How does the VW XL1 achieve this? It is a combination of its low weight (795Kg), low aerodynamic drag (Cd=0.189), its low centre of gravity (only 1153mm high) and most importantly it’s propulsion system.

The propulsion system consists of the two-cylinder 35kW TDI engine, a 20kW electric motor (E-motor) mated to a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG). Power for the E-motor comes from a pack of lithium-ion batteries.

In boost mode the 140Nm E-motor in combination with the 120Nmtwo-cylinder TDI engine provide a maximum torque of 140NM and 51kW.

The performance figures for the VW XL1 are not mind boggling per say but very impressive considering its propulsion system. The VW XL1 is electronically limited to a top speed of 160km/h and can accelerate to 100m/h in just 12.7 seconds.

To achieve the lightweight design of the VW XL1 a large portion of the vehicle (21.3%) is built using carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP). The monocoque with its slightly offset seats for driver and front passenger, all exterior body parts as well as functional elements such as the anti-roll bars are all made of CFRP.

Unlike the previous concept versions shown, where the driver and passenger sat in a tandem arrangement, the seating configuration of the XL1 allows two occupants to sit slightly offset, side by side.

For easy ingress and egress the XL1 features wing doors, however that may be seen as debatable to some especially considering the low height of the vehicle and the height of the door sills.

Visually, the XL1 has a rather dynamic appearance thanks to it’s width. The front of the XL1 exhibits the greatest width and then narrows towards the rear. Viewed from above the form of the XL1 resembles that of a dolphin.

In side profile, the roofline traces an arc from the A-pillar back to the rear. The rear wheels are fully covered to prevent air turbulence; the air flows here are also optimised by small spoilers in front of and behind the wheels. Observers will look for door mirrors in vain; replacing them are small cameras integrated in the wing doors known as e-Mirrors (digital outside mirrors) that send images of the surroundings behind the car to two displays inside the vehicle.

Depite absence of the a typical radiator grille at the front of the VW XL1, the front still reflects the the syling of the Volkswagen “design DNA” with a predominance of horizontal lines.

At the rear, there are four discernible characteristics. First, there is the characteristic dolphin body form, once again, that narrows towards the rear with very precise trailing edges for perfect aerodynamics. Second, there is the coupé-shaped roofline without rear windscreen. Merging into the roofline is the large rear boot lid that covers the drive unit and 120-litre luggage space. Third, there is a strip of red LEDs that frames the rear section at the top and on the sides. Integrated in this LED strip are the reversing lights, rear lights, rear fog lights and brake lights. Fourth, is a black diffuser, which exhibits nearly seamless transitions to the completely covered underbody.

All in all a rather interesting car and a further illustration of the boundaries automotive manufacturers are pushing to create more fuel efficient vehicles. Whether we ever see the car in South Africa is another story but at least we mays still benefit from having more hybrid vehicles introduced to our market in the short to medium term.

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