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.
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.
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.