The World's Most Fuel Efficient Car: VW's 261 MPG XL1 is Here

Volkswagen XL1

At 261 MPG, the production version Volkswagen’s high-efficiency XL1 is nothing less than a supercar. It may not be super-fast, but its task is not conquering LeMans – its mission is to change the automotive landscape and establish a new standard in high-mpg commuting. The new VW XL1 does that, and looks for all the world like a streamlined hyper-exotic at the same time it’s behaving like what it is: the world’s most fuel efficient car (in series production, anyway).

Volkswagen’s new XL1 should look exotic, because it is – with lightweight material, engine, and chassis technology that rivals the high-dollar, high-horsepower rarities coming out of the Porsche and Ferrari factories. It’s more than that, though, as its fuel-efficiency figures (more than double those of my old 50 cc Metropolitan) testify to.

In true supercar fashion, most of the Volkswagen XL1 will be built by hand in VW’s Osnabrück factory, while the carbon fiber monocoque comes courtesy of a supplier in Austria (KTM?). The 800 cc engine is derived from the company’s 1.6 L diesel, though modified for smoothness and even more efficiency, and is good for 47 horsepower and 89 foot pounds of torque, with an additional boost up to 68 horsepower and 103 ft-lb from the hybrid electric motor available – enough for a 100 mph top speed and 0-60 runs in the 12-13 second range. Not good, but not totally awful (and plenty fast enough, given enough road, to land its less fuel-conscious drivers in some seriously hot legal waters).

You can get a sense of the car’s layout in the cutaway graphic, below …

VW XL1 cutaway
Click to enlarge.

… and, while I’ve clipped a few of my favorite pictures from Volkswagen’s press release, you should head on over to Jalopnik for high-res versions of ALL the XL1 photos until the official reveal of the VW XL1 – the most fuel efficient car in the world – at Geneva next month (true to VW’s promises, it should be noted). No word, yet, on pricing, but tech like this ain’t gonna be cheap.

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Source | Photos: Volkswagen, via Jalopnik.

Jo Borrás

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, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.