2014 Volkswagen XL1

The Volkswagen XL1 shows making a hybrid doesn’t mean its design has to be inspired by a bar of soap. Largely unchanged from the 2011 concept car, the XL1 will show up again in Geneva this March.

It sure looks fast... surprise! | Volkswagen

Making a hybrid truly fuel efficient as well as attractive isn’t an easy feat, for some reason. You’ve got to keep wind drag down — without making your car look like a complete drag. But times are changing, and today’s hybrids look less like melted bars of soap and more like a handsome future. The Volkswagen XL1 appears to fall into the latter category. Introduced in 2011 as a concept car, it was just announced that the XL1 will actually see production later this year. The production version, which won’t deviate much at all from the handsome concept, should show its face at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

With an astounding 270 mpg (does it have a one gallon gas tank?), the two-seater makes use of both an 800cc 2-cylinder diesel engine making 47 hp and 27 hp electric motor — mated to a seven speed dual-clutch transmission. On electric power alone, the XL1 should get 31 MPGe. All of this vehicular economy is made possible by use of lightweight materials such as carbon-fiber reinforced plastic and aluminum, combined with a slippery shape that begets a 0.189 drag coefficient, beating the Mercedes-Benz CLA‘s impressive 0.22. The first generation Honda Insight-like rear wheel covers don’t hurt, either. Just don’t look for blazing speeds, since 0-60 arrives in a somnambulic 12 seconds. VW should bring this to the European market toward the end of the year but no confirmation of its arrival stateside. Pricing has yet to be announced.

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