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Born from the fuel-sipping XL1, Volkswagen’s XL Sport has the heart of a raging Ducati

When Volkswagen’s revolutionary 1.0-liter prototype was first shown in 2002, it came with some bold claims: a 0.159 drag coefficient (Cd), 285 miles per gallon, and a 404-mile driving range on one tank of fuel.

Over the years, the car evolved in both looks and design, and was eventually released as a limited production vehicle in 2013. It may not have been as eco-friendly as we originally thought, but the futuristic XL1 was still a marvel in many ways.

Somewhere along the line, however, a Volkswagen engineer had the novel idea that the XL1’s extreme aerodynamics could benefit much more than just fuel economy. Thus, the XL Sport was born.

Related: How VW milks 261 miles from a single gallon of gas with the record-breaking XL1

The XL Sport combines the slipstream silhouette that helped the XK1 reach 261 mpg (give or take 100) with the heart of a furious Italian sport bike, and the result is absolutely phenomenal.

The XL borrows the 197-horsepower V-Twin engine from the Ducati 1199, and with that comes the Superleggera’s 11,000-rpm redline and surprisingly guttural soundtrack. Despite having a motorbike powerplant powering the rear wheels, the XL Sport’s 1,962-pound curb weight allows it to hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Top speed is a similarly impressive 168 mph.

VW Ducati XL Sport 10

The new car isn’t a slippery as its gas-sipping cousin (Cd is now 0.258), as VW has removed the enclosed wheel wells of the XL1 and added aggressive venting throughout. The XL1 always had a subtly aggressive front fascia, but now the dagger-like headlight undercuts have bolder, sharper lines to play off of. It looks impressive.

With the XL Sport, Volkswagen has mated “the most fuel-efficient production car of all time” with a bike that has “the best power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle in history.” If the offspring is anything less than a prodigy, I’d be very surprised.

The XL Sport will be showcased in its entirety at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

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