LA 2013: Volkswagen Announces 256 MPG Diesel Hybrid


VW Diesel Hybrid Gets 260 MPG

Volkswagen knocked one out of the park with its genre-defying, extreme MGP XL1 supercar- with orders exceeding the company’s XL1 production plans for the slinky exotic car, despite its six-figure price tag. Don’t think that the XL1 is done because VW doesn’t plan on building more XL1s, though. Meet the Volkswagen’s XL1 follow-up act: the 250+ MPG Volkswagen Twin Up! diesel hybrid set to debut later this month at the LA Auto Show.

The Twin Up! uses a modified version of the XL1’s 47 hp, 800 cc diesel engine and electric hybrid drivetrain to return a claimed fuel consumption of more than 256 MPG and CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km on the European cycles (if that g/km measurement didn’t give it away). That’s pretty strong, considering the 900 lb. weight penalty the Twin Up! has over the featherweight XL1.

The new Volkswagen diesel hybrid would, if sold in the US, carry the highest EPA mileage rating of any hybrid car, including Chevy’s plug-in hybrid Volt, which the EPA previously rated at “just” 93 MPG.

The Twin Up! is expected to join the all-electric e-Up! and e-Golf in Volkswagen’s bid to become the world leader in clean cars, and bringing cars like the Twin Up! and e-Golf to the US is a big part of their strategy in the coming years. The only question then will be: will it sell?

What do you think, readers? Has VW nailed it and discovered that diesel hybrids are the way to go, or has the success of the XL1 lulled them into believing it was the drivetrain and MPG estimates that sold it, and not the space-age bodywork? Let us know what you think – and remember to show your work!


Source | Photos: Volkswagen, via Auto Express UK.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Jason Carpp

    I like the idea of a diesel hybrid car, and I hope that it sells here in North America, particularly here in the USA. Diesel may not be for everyone, but so what? If you can afford it, and you’re looking for something that gets better fuel economy than a gasoline powered car of the same dimensions, why not offer it?

    • “If you can afford it” is probably a key part of this- diesels aren’t usually more expensive than gas engines, especially at 800cc. What you’re buying is all the trick R&D that went into it.

      • Jason Carpp

        Usually, the bigger the vehicle, the more expensive it is to drive. I think most people will be able to afford a 1 litre diesel powered car. Personally, I question VWs claim of 256 MPGs. I can imagine a car going that far from the time you fill up the tank (F) to the time the gauge is close to Empty (E). But to be able to go 256 MILES PER GALLON? I suppose that’s possible if you’re the only person in the car, and you’re not carrying anything with you other than a gym bag of stuff, and all you’re doing is traveling non-stop, keeping mostly to the freeways (motorway, autobahn, etc.). But I would think, realistically, if you have other people in the car, and you have stuff in the trunk, 65 mpgs max.

        • IFixedIt

          Don’t forget to take off the mirrors, antenna, trim packages, smooth over the door handles, cover some of the wheel wells, smooth the emblem on the front, use hard/overinflated tires etc…

          • Jason Carpp

            How would that help reduce fuel consumption? I can see how over-inflated tires can be a problem, as much as under-inflated tires. But how can removing the mirrors, antenna, trim packages, etc. help?

          • PlacidAir

            because anything that sticks out creates drag

          • Jason Carpp

            That’s true. You can *reduce* wind resistance, but you can’t *eliminate* wind resistance. Anything that moves through the air generates some push against the air it moves through.

        • Phoghat

          have an old Golf TDI and while I’m not getting 250 + MPG I am getting what you claim. This has to do better than that, mine’s 10 years old

  • danwat1234

    Totally bogus MPG claims. According to another site it’s curb weight is over 2,600 pounds and 214MPGe combined figure. A ~3,300 pound Leaf is 118MPGe combined. That 256MPG number is clearly just a gas number if you normally plug in, and not taking into account electricity usage. Like the first Volt MPG figures. and 214MPGe isn’t realistic either.

    BTW ” which the EPA previously rated at “just” 93 MPG” , the 2013+ Volts are 98MPGe rated, 38 miles EPA battery range.

    • Even if we go with the 98MPG, the 800 cc engine is about half the displacement of the Volt’s 1.4, and has the thermal efficiency benefits of being a diesel on top of that. 256 may be far off, but this is also a “post Volt world” where manufacturers like Ford and Mazda have gotten in trouble over bogus MPG claims, as you call them. I doubt VW would play the same dubious game Chevy did 5 years ago.

      • Jason Carpp

        That sounds like a more realistic number.

    • Jason Carpp

      Even 118 mpgs seems a bit optimistic. I would think that realistically, 50mpgs would the most one could expect.

      • No way- cars in the 90s got 50 MPG without advanced aero, clean-burning diesel engines, variable vane turbos, cylinder shut-off, or hybrid/electric assist. I mean, time will tell, but that’s a VERY out-dated view you’re holding on to.

        • IFixedIt

          clean-burning diesel engines
          no such thing…less dirty/polluting, but diesel / clean or coal /clean are words that shouldn’t be combined in a sentence.


          • I’m with you, but they’re cleaner than they were with EGR and urea filters.

          • Jason Carpp

            That’s crazy! Clean burning diesel? How is that possible? Unless the car has filters that prevent the worst of the pollutants from exiting the tail pipe.

        • BombR76

          @joborras:disqus my 1978 ‘stock’ non-turbo diesel Rabbit got consistently 54-mpg. My friend’s 1992 non-turbo diesel Golf gets 52-mpg. No advanced aero, etc.! How do you resolve this argument (unless you were being sarcastic . . .)?

          • philip d

            The 1978 VW Rabbit diesel had a curb weight of 2145lbs.
            The 2014 Volkswagen GTI has a curb weight of 2978lbs.

            That’s over 800 lbs of extra weight

          • BombR76

            . . . Soooo?!? The 2-mpg difference is still better than a Prius!
            With the ‘clean-burning diesel’ and urea injection this is still admirable without extraordinary means.

          • philip d

            The 1978 VW Rabbit diesel had a curb weight of 2145lbs.
            The 2014 Prius has a curb weight of 3042 lbs.
            900 lbs. more. Add almost a half ton to your 1978 diesel and you’ll find that you’ll get worse mpg than a new Golf TDI which gets 32/44 mpg.

          • philip d

            This illustrates the point of why cars weigh so much more today.

            crash test at 30mph.

            The reason that the Prius and all other cars today weigh 1000 lbs. more than your 78′ Rabbit is so we can not die in a low speed crash.

      • A.Wolf

        milage can be very true. had a 1978 diesel Rabbit 1600cc, non-turbo, rebuilt by myself and I got 92 MPG. nothing fancy with the rebuild just very accurate weights and measurements. Apologise for the late technical feed-back but just became aware of this new hybrid at the last visit to the dealership, they had two testers there for sales/promo. they were both camoed with shrink wrap for incognito.

  • Bi-Polar Bear

    Whatever real world mileage may turn out to be, it has been apparent to many for some time that a diesel/electric hybrid propulsion system is a very efficient way to get people from Point A to Point B in an automobile.

    There is a huge amount of anti-diesel sentiment in America. Many think it is a residue of the horrifically bad diesel cars GM produced during the oil crises in the 70’s, but there are a lot of people alive today who weren’t even born back then. I suspect it is fueled in part by the ethanol industry.

    • Ethanol!? What?? You can turn lots of ethanol waste into bio-diesel, why would that industry care at all?

      • Bi-Polar Bear

        D’oh. Of COURSE that’s so. What I was thinking about was the stupidity of using corn that could be used to feed animals and people to make ethanol for blending with gasoline.

        Ethanol from swtich grass or other cellusotic sources (including corn stalks) ? Yeah, baby. Ethanol from corn? No way, Jose.

        I always have to remind myself that Dr. Rudolf Diesel originally developed his compression ignition engine to run on peanut oil.

        • T Adkins

          For the most part the animals can still eat it, they just are not getting the first pass at it. I do believe though you have to choose to either use the ethanol waste for feed or bio-diesel.

    • Otherwise, I agree with you 100%. No idea what the anti-diesel sentiment is all about in the US.

    • Phoghat

      i think you suspect correctly

    • PlacidAir

      When I bought my diesel Beetle in 2006, a whole lot of people responded with “but they’re so SMELLY!” and I spent a LOT of time explaining that the current crop of diesels was nothing like the stinkers that people remembered from the 80s. Had to take a few people for a test drive to convince them that it was quiet and clean…. but I didn’t mind. I think the current Beetle is ugly, and part of the charm in 2006 was that it was one of the shorter cars around, and therefore easy to park on city streets (well easier anyway). They blew it when they decided to make the current model longer. Ah well…. I’m hanging onto my 2006 until I can trade up to a diesel-electric hybrid.

  • t_

    256MPG may be far off, but even 118 is great. We’ll see. We’ll see also how much VW will charge for the hybrid. In Europe, the Up is the cheapest in the range. Now the price begins ~ 11300USD and reaches ~19000USD. Fuel efficiency – 42MPG city, 60MPG highway. With a 1.0 gas engine. It should be possible to halve that with a hybrid drivetrain. However, I do not see me paying more than 19000 for this small car. It is practical, but still a city commuter with all of their drawbacks, so it should not cost so much to be adopted. My opinion, of course.

    • PlacidAir

      If they give it all the proper bells and whistles — heatable seats, moonroof, stereo and phone controls on steeringwheel, bluetooth, foglights, etc. I’d easily go $30,000 for this car. I paid close to $24K for my 2006 diesel Beetle and haven’t regretted it for a single second. The 2013 version now on the diesel Beetle is close to that $30K mark — and for that car, no. But for this one? Hell yeah!

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  • Otis11

    In diesel mode, the real world mileage of this is expected to be ~70 MPG depending on environment and driving pattern. (Aka, put in 5 gallons of gas, go 350 miles if not pre-charged)

  • Joe

    THIS is exactly what I’ve been waiting for — a vehicle with that kind of MPG (and a price tag closer to a Prius than a Tesla) will be a game changer! I would buy this car for the MPG, regardless of bodywork — and I bet lots others will too. With gas prices inexorably rising, the lame excuse for not producing diesel hybrids (that the small additional premium for replacing a hybrid’s gas engine with a diesel would drive away buyers) is moot.

  • PlacidAir MoonBat

    This car is giving me gadget lust…. I want one. I drive a 2006 diesel beetle now, which I love, and would gladly use it as a trade in for a diesel-electric hybrid. If they found a way to make it cute, it would really get me looking for financing.

  • redress

    I already have an 03 Jetta tdi wagon that gives me over 50MPG – for 5 times the mileage I’d buy one in a minute…

  • Jimmies unrustled

    I think Diesel hybrids are great. For the mileage, Torque and emissions will greatly be improved, as diesel engines produce more toxic emissions when at a stand-still rather than at higher speeds due to the lack of activity of the turbocharger at a stop, or low speeds. The electric motor will be able to drive the car at the low speeds to help reduce these emissions and the diesel will run at higher speeds. I don’t really see any downsides to this (other than cost and amount of new components in the car). It’s a great idea and I hope other car manufacturers see this as well.

  • Jimmy Dean

    For those with the anti-diesel sentiment I laugh at you all the way to the pump. I knew VW diesels were the way to go for not only the economy but the advances they have made with their clean diesel. As with everything else if it’s good for you or the environment it’s going to cost you $$$. Don’t think I’ll ever see one but I’m happy to drive an 01 ALH 5sp man that gets me 60 MPG HWY and a 10 2.0 TDI 6sp man that I’ve been able to pull 47 MPG HWY consistently.

  • Sampson Greenovich

    I think I would actually buy a diesel hybrid car. They tend to run a lot longer than traditional gas. I would use it for road trips.