If you’re looking for one of the most efficient hybrids ever built, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better than the VW XL1. This limited production VW hybrid was built with the same passion and technical excellence found in hypercars, except that instead of focusing on performance, the team sought total efficiency. With a limited run of just 200 road cars, the XL1 is one of the rarest VWs ever built.
The VW XL1 might not look that exciting at first glance, but once you learn more about the engineering under the skin, things start to change. The VW XL1 is the most aerodynamic car ever built and one of the lightest thanks to obsessive attention to weight savings. The XL1 is built with heavy use of the carbon fiber used to build the carbon tub, body panels and to line the interior.
Power comes from a plug-in hybrid transmission with a 2-cylinder turbo diesel engine that acts as both a generator and a drive component. Total power is just 68 horsepower (51 kW) and 100 lb-ft (140 Nm) of torque from the 0.8-liter combined diesel engine and electric motor. This unique transmission is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for lightning-fast gear changes to keep the engine at its most efficient rev range.
The VW XL1 might not be the most exciting supercar ever made, but the amount of engineering effort put into making this car as efficient as possible makes it an incredibly interesting machine. Many of the lessons learned from the VW XL1 can be seen in the increasingly efficient VW range of vehicles, making it a worthwhile investment despite limited production and sales. Efficiency might not be exciting, but this level of engineering effort is worth celebrating.