There can be no better exercise in irony than to launch a car that delivers well in excess of 300mpg than in Qatar: a country reportedly responsibleÂ for the largest exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, and a significant player in theÂ crude oil / petroleum market. Yet the Qatar motor show provided a lavishÂ backdrop for the launch ofÂ Volkswagen’s XL1 â€” a diesel hybrid concept.
The new car is the third concept model built to the vision of travelling 100km (62 miles) on a single litre of fuel. The first two vehicles (introduced in 2002 and 2009) used tandem seating, but the XL1 achieves the goal (or at 0.9l/100km, surpasses it) while looking remarkably conventional. That being said, the XL1 isÂ shorter than a Polo (3.9m), but lower than a Lamborghini Gallardo (a ridiculously low 1156mm). And for the aerodynamicists out there the XL1â€™s drag coefficient is a pretty slick 0.186.
Petrol [or diesel / electric] heads, get your rain macs as we present the following spec. The XL1 is powered by an 800cc, two-cylinder turbodiesel powerplant (half a BlueMotion engine), producing 47bhp. Itâ€™s supported by a 27bhp electric motor that is fuelled by lithium-ion batteries. These can be charged from a domestic plug, allowing the car to travel for 35km (22 miles) on electric power alone.
The electric motor can also be used to support the diesel engineâ€™s torque during â€˜full powerâ€™ acceleration, lifting the figure from 74lb ft to 103lb ft. But it also contributes to overall efficiency thatâ€™s well beyond that of regular production cars. The XL1 requires just 8bhp to maintain a constant speed of 62mph; by contrast, a Golf 1.6 TDI requires 18bhp to achieve the same feat.
So you’re saying to yourself “why have I not heard about this car yet?” To that question, we have two words: ‘price-point’ and ‘exclusivity’. The VW XL1 goes on sale in the UK for a whopping Â£98,515, with a total of 200 set to be builtÂ at VWâ€™s Osnabruck factory in Germany, with around 30 examples of the plug-in hybrid making their way to the UK.
For those able to afford this vanguard in automotive efficiency, there’ll be little to concern them when they finally need to visit a petrol station.