VW Goes Back to The Future

February 26, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

On Monday, German car manufacturer Volkswagen announced a revolutionary new hybrid model. The design and features strike a unique balance of intrigue and appeal. Visually, the car is vaguely reminiscent of a DeLorean DMC-12, which is helpful in cultivating the overall futuristic persona. The Volkswagen XL1 is silver, aerodynamic, with gull-wings, and it has camera-based mirrors. However, the real interest revolves around the ability to travel 261 miles on a single gallon of gas.

Volkswagen originally presented the XLI as a concept car several years ago. As a result, the announcement of production was a surprise to many. It will be presented at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in a few weeks.

The vehicle is a plug-in hybrid with the ability to run 32 miles on electricity alone before a diesel engine kicks in. Even at this point, it’s extremely efficient. VW reports that the vehicle takes only 8.3 horsepower to cruise at 62 miles an hour. These claims seem to add up given that the engine has only two cylinders and puts out only 47 horsepower. The electric motor adds another 27 horsepower.

Engineers designed the car as light and aerodynamic as possible in order to reduce drag. The vehicle weighs in at 1,752 pounds (around 50 percent less than a normal midsize sedan).

Despite the obvious benefits associated with the XLI, significant performance sacrifices were made to get the car’s efficiency so high. Engine performance suffers considerably in matters concerning speed. The engine hits 60 miles per hour in 12.7 seconds…yes, that’s correct, 12.7 seconds, and VW even suggests that should be avoided. Additionally, the car’s maximum speed tops out at 99 miles per hour…yes, that’s correct, 99 miles per hour, which could likely be an unfavorable decision factor among enthusiasts.

In addition to engine performance issues, the car has very little room. The trunk space is minimal, and the car is a two-seater with nothing behind the seats. Traditionally, sports cars are most notable for sacrificing space for speed, though the nature of the XLI suggests a vehicle that’s contradictory to that ideal. The benefits of small spaces lie in weight loss.

Perhaps most importantly, there have not been any announcements regarding price. Many speculate that because Volkswagen is only going to produce about 1,000 cars built by hand, the car is most likely going to be very expensive. While it’s difficult to dispute the attractive design and fuel-efficiency the XLI does inherently possess, realistically the vehicle is not well rounded enough for common streets. The advancements made by Volkswagen are very promising for future, futuristic cars.

“The 261-mpg fuel consumption figure is a record that has not been achieved by any other vehicle to date, showing that Volkswagen is redefining what is technically feasible in the automotive industry,” the automaker says. XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds, according to VW.


Chris is a graduate of Ball State University, where he studied Journalism and Advertising. As a staff writer he brings his love for snazzy word combinations to Techie, meanwhile suppressing the continuous urge to generate puns. In his free time, Chris is likely reading, accepting food challenges, performing Spartan exercise maneuvers, or crafting new music on guitar and the occasional dub step on GarageBand.

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