VW’s XL1 proves not as eco-friendly as we thought, achieving 160mpg in real-world driving – but could become a sports car

Volkswagen XL1

We’ve been pretty jazzed about the Volkswagen XL1 ever since it was unveiled earlier this year. The reported 261mpg hypermiler seemed to embody everything we at Digital Trends want in a car, save supercar performance. The XL1 is distinctively beautiful, features tons of cool tech – including video cameras and color screens in place of side view mirrors – and unbeatable eco-friendliness thanks to its two-cylinder diesel engine and electric motor hybrid drivetrain.

Word has come, though, that the XL1 might not be as wonderfully economical as VW lead us to believe. In a recent Automobile first drive report; author Georg Kacher claims he achieved some 160mpg during his six-hour test drive from Lucerne to Geneva.

While Kacher understandably emphasized that he “only” achieved 160mpg, we’re a bit disappointed.

Yes, those figures are great but a 101mpg drop from the sticker estimates is not good. It’s not good at all. Sure, compared to the Accord Plug-in, which is rated at 115mpge, it’s still good. Compared to the goods we had been originally sold, though, it’s not good.

Intriguingly, Automobile mentions in a separate story that Volkswagen is considering turning the XL1 into a sports car of sorts. The body has a drag co-efficient of only 0.19, which is the lowest of any “production” car ever. With a bit more power, the slippery XL1 could easily make a relatively inexpensive performance model – perhaps powered by the all-new GTI turbocharged drivetrain.

We’re not going to hold our breath for a XL1 sports variant. We will, however, be eager to see how VW responds to the real-world driving economy claims from the first few drive reports. Stay tuned to see what the German automaker – and the XL1 – does next.


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