The Volkswagen XL1 is a next-generation vehicle focused on one thing: hitting the one-liter per 100 kilometer fuel efficiency bogey (hence its name). That ultra-low level of energy usage translates to 235 miles per gallon, but since VW says the two-seater burns even less than a liter per 100 km, the estimated fuel economy number is more like 261 mpg. Even if real-world testing sometimes returns "just" 120 mpg, there's no question that this is a car built for efficiency. So why are we hearing rumors of a sports version called the XR1?
That's what Automobile Magazine claims, after speaking with an anonymous VW board member who said that the idea behind the XR1 would be to offer performance like a Porsche 911 alongside hybrid-like fuel economy at a lower price. Interestingly, the car's electric powertrain would be removed, and the resulting weight drop would allow VW to use cheaper materials (aluminum and steel instead of magnesium and carbon fiber, for example) while still keeping the car light. The liquid-fuel engine might become a four-cylinder (maybe the turbocharged 2.0-liter found in the seventh-generation GTI, which offers 220 horsepower) and a new seven-speed automatic dual-clutch that could together provide 70 miles per gallon.
Automobile notes that a lot of other changes would be needed that would modify the car's look and feel, but if such a vehicle is approved, we could theoretically be looking at a high-efficiency sports car that reaches 62 miles per hour in under 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 190 mph – all for under $50,000. That sure sounds sweet, but when Autoblog Green reached out to Volkswagen of America, the automaker's manager of product and technology, Mark Gillies, said this was all news to him. Isn't speculation fun?