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    1. Senior Member Wimbledon's Avatar
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      03-06-2013 04:53 PM #1
      http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/...t-drive-review





      Quote Originally Posted by Autocar
      What is it?
      A hyper-economical carbonfibre and gull-winged two-seater that is the cumulation of more than a decade of engineering effort at Volkswagen. This started with Ferdinand Piech’s (now chairman of the VW supervisory board) turn-of-the-century vision of building a production car capable of covering 100km on one litre of fuel, or 282mpg.

      

The first concept was the 2002 L1, which combined a carbonfibre body, tandem seating, a side-hinged canopy and a single-cylinder, 8bhp, engine. The car weighed just 290kg. The L1 was demonstrated by Piech, who was then VW Group boss, and the company claimed fuel economy of 0.99-litres per 100km, or 238mpg.

      The second-generation L1 was shown in Autumn 2009. This featured hybrid transmission combining a two-cylinder diesel engine and an electric motor. 

The problem with making the L1 production-ready was less the uncivilised tandem seating and aircraft-style side-hinged roof canopy and more the issue of it meeting crash test requirements.

      Less than two years after the second-generation L1, VW showed the XL1 in the form of a series of driveable prototypes. VW engineers had taken a huge leap with the ‘one-litre’ concept by retaining the two-cylinder hybrid drivetrain but completely rethinking the body design. 


      Bringing the story right up to date, the final design is based around a supercar-style carbonfibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) monocoque passenger cell, with the passenger seat staggered behind the driver seat. This clever arrangement reduces the amount of shoulder room needed, allowing the body to be as narrow as possible for aerodynamic reasons. Crash protection front and rear is provided by large extruded aluminium crash boxes and the mid-mounted powertrain is also hung off the rear aluminium subframe. The whole assembly weighs just 230kg.



      To make for easier access across the wide sills, the XL1 has large gullwing doors which cut right into the roof. If you end up upside down in the XL1, explosive bolts release the gullwing doors.

The XL1 is 3.88m long, just 1.65m wide and 1.15m tall – which makes it 10cm shorter than a Volkswagen Polo, less than 20mm narrower but nearly 30cm lower.

      These dimensions are, of course, at the maximum points. In the flesh, the XL1 looks tiny, not just because it so low, but also because the body tapers away to the classic teardrop shape with the rear wheels enclosed by the body. It has a Cd rating of just 0.189 - surely a world record for a production car.



      The front suspension is made up of double wishbones, the rear a ‘semi-trailing link system’. The brake discs are made of lightweight ceramic and the wheels are magnesium. The front wheels are almost motorcycle-slim at 115/80 R15 and the rears 145/55 R 16.



      Behind the passenger cell is the two-cylinder hybrid drivetrain. Effectively half of an existing 1.6-litre turbo diesel, tweaked and fitted with a balancer shaft, it develops 50bhp and the electric motor provides 27bhp. Both drive through a seven-speed DSG gearbox. The 5.5kWh lithium-Ion battery pack is mounted in the front of the car, in the void ahead of the passenger’s feet.

      The XL1 can run on diesel only, electric only or, in boost mode, a combination of the two. During boost mode the two motors generate a maximum of 68.3bhp and a maximum of 103lb ft of torque. The XL1’s top speed is limited to 99.4mph and it can hit 62mph in 12.7secs.

      What is it like?
      Exceptional on the motorway and agreeably flawed in town. It takes a bit of effort to get into the XL1, the sills are very wide and the seats very low, but once you’re inside, it is very comfortable indeed. The view ahead is panoramic, while the view directly behind is non-existent because there’s no rear window. The rear-view mirrors have been replaced by what looks like a pair of iPhone screens mounted in the door trims - the XL1 is the first production car in the world to have rear-view cameras in place of conventional mirrors.

 Top marks for the interior design, too. The dash is a model of restrained good taste and quality finish. There's a half decent boot, too. It's hidden in the tail and has room for a couple of large weekend bags.

      Twist the key, put the shift lever into ‘D’ and the car hums away on battery power. Straight away you are aware of the different sensations that come from a car built around a carbonfibre monocoque. There’s a slight hollowness and resonance to the sounds transmitted into the cabin. As I accelerated and the – still cold – diesel engine fired up, the noise was alarming, a kind of empty reverberating thrum.



      On a straight road the XL1 is very stable and straight-running, with easily enough power to keep up with traffic flow. It is surprisingly comfortable and quiet on decent roads. The steering is accurate and the swiftness and seamlessness of the engine cutting in and out is very impressive - even if it is relatively vocal. Even the smallest incline can be quickly detected by the XL1 and the engine almost instantly spun up to assist the electric motor and battery pack.



      In town, the story is slightly less happy. The ride can be a little brittle and the unassisted steering takes some getting used to. It’s quite hard, say, to whip around a mini-roundabout because the steering weights up considerably. The brakes feel a little dead and are also a little noisy, but that’s a consequence of the lightweight ceramic brake discs.

      And you have to move around in the seat to try to see properly at junctions: leaning forward to look around the A-pillars can lead to you banging your head on the low windscreen surround. Yes, it takes a little thought to drive around on narrow streets, but the learning curve is likely to be short.



      On the motorway, the XL1 is supreme. Despite its tiny footprint and the heavy rain on the Swiss motorway, the XL1 was rock-steady, completely unruffled by passing lorries. It ran very straight and true, requiring virtually no steering corrections. At a steady 62mph, the XL1 requires just 8bhp to make progress – an indication of the car’s remarkably low rolling and air resistance. It also feels entirely happy at 75mph and above, and making brisk overtaking manoeuvres.



      On an early test drive this week, which including crossing a mountain range, the most economical drivers achieved a real 188mpg. On a long motorway run, there’s surely potential for 200mpg. Overall, the XL1 is quite an unusual experience, but a very satisfying one for any driver who appreciates the brilliant engineering behind the car.

      Should I buy one?
      Firstly, there’s no news about the price. VW bosses admitted at the Geneva motor show that they still have no idea how much the company will charge for the 250 production examples that will be made by Karmann. Whatever VW charges, there’s no doubt they’ll make a huge loss on the XL1 project, although that is hardly the point. It is a technological marvel.

      

And, while VW UK has requested as many as 50 of these left-hand-drive-only cars, there’s no news on how many will arrive here. 

All that said, the XL1 is a true landmark machine that points the way to the future – a future as far as a decade away. The combination of lightweight material, a downsized engine assisted by an electric motor, dramatically better aerodynamic performance and the innovations such as automatic coasting on downhill roads are definitely the future for family cars.



      Super-early adopters will adore the XL1 – and the chance to hone their driving skills enough to achieve a real-world 200mpg. 


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    3. Senior Member feels_road's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 02:33 AM #2
      Good to see that they achieved decent "real-world" mileage. Funny that the car is better suited to the highway - at least in terms of comfort.
      After incessant complaints from a to z, I am now calling all of my characters "special."

    4. Senior Member Ryukein's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 02:41 AM #3
      The XL1 is extremely awesome, I'm so glad VW was able to put it into production

    5. Member Swapped6n's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 04:45 AM #4
      I HAVE to drive one of these!!

      Wish it'd be affordable and become a popular mode of transport.
      These things look cool, and I think its wonderful how efficient they are.

    6. Senior Member Son's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 05:23 AM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by feels_road View Post
      Good to see that they achieved decent "real-world" mileage.
      Remember those are imperial gallons in that mpg figure.

    7. Member carlos_miami's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 06:48 PM #6
      I want one.

    8. Member adrew's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 06:59 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Son View Post
      Remember those are imperial gallons in that mpg figure.
      Still pretty impressive - that 188 MPG observed figure works out to 156 US MPG.
      Improving the signal-to-noise ratio

    9. Senior Member PowerDubs's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 07:12 PM #8
      Eh... needs a rear window.
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    10. Member wolfsburgfanatic's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 08:39 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by carlos_miami View Post
      I want one.
      x2. It's a shame they are only making 250, and I guess the USA won't see any of those. Hopefully it's successful and they mass produce a second generation for the world market


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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      03-07-2013 08:47 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by PowerDubs View Post
      Eh... needs a rear window.
      Nothing a chisel and hammer won't fix.

    12. Member
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      03-07-2013 08:54 PM #11
      Lower it.

    13. Geriatric Member BRealistic's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 09:44 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by wolfsburgfanatic View Post
      x2. It's a shame they are only making 250, and I guess the USA won't see any of those. Hopefully it's successful and they mass produce a second generation for the world market
      But at what price?
      Vehicles owned (*=automatic):
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    14. Member dustinwark's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 10:37 PM #13
      Someone had to do it



    15. Member TM87's Avatar
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      03-07-2013 10:43 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by dustinwark View Post
      Someone had to do it


      This way, you only buy 2 wheels instead of 4.

    16. Senior Member Iroczgirl's Avatar
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      03-08-2013 12:23 AM #15
      Wonderful!
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      You're always better off with a Citroën.™

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      03-08-2013 12:39 AM #16
      This is the car for the next Back to the Future.

      Great looks and slow as scheet. Doc will be able to reconnect power from Empire State Building to New Jersey Ferry before this gets to 88mph...

    18. Member Volkska's Avatar
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      03-08-2013 12:54 AM #17
      If I got this car, I feel a set of these would be a necessity.... pretending that bolt pattern and offset of course.

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    19. 03-08-2013 12:57 AM #18
      the prototypes weights less than 300 kg, the final car is almost 800...

    20. Member 8V Fury's Avatar
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      03-08-2013 04:30 AM #19
      Hope I win the lotto, Hope I win the lotto, Hope I win the lotto.
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      real deal<p>After spending two months in the mk3 forum it drove into the woods and set fire to itself.

    21. Senior Member Ryukein's Avatar
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      05-03-2013 11:30 AM #20
      CAR gave it 5 stars
      VW will build only 250 examples of its super-streamlined 313mpg XL1. CAR’s Georg Kacher has driven one of them to find out if it really can achieve its amazing claimed economy figures.

      First impressions of the VW XL1
      You enter the vehicle through mighty gullwing doors which are blown open by little integrated pyrotechnic devices should the poor thing ever come to rest on its roof after an accident. One sits on lightweight buckets in a staggered position, the driver closer to the dashboard than the passenger, to avoid rubbing shoulders and to warrant an ultra-slim frontal area that almost matches a cabin scooter.

      Instead of mirrors, monitors integrated in the door panels depict in full colour what is happening behind your backs. Just about the only low-tech item inside this space-age plug-in VW are the manual window winders.

      On the road in the VW XL1
      We are ready to go, and after pushing the starter button, activating EV mode and pulling the transmission lever in Drive, so is the car. The six-hour tour will take us from Luzern near Zurich to Geneva near the French border. The route provides a challenging mix of city traffic, autobahn sections and B-roads as well as plenty of steep climbs and descents. In town, the 795kg eye-catcher is a silent battery cruiser which unleashes 103lb ft of clean energy torque whenever you depress the accelerator - which one does with maximum restraint. After all, every overtaking manoeuvre is instantly reflected by the range indicator, the state of charge display and ultimately also by the fuel gauge. More than once, unassuming pedestrians stepped into our flight path because they simply did not hear the whispering ground-bound blimp approaching them from behind. Inside the beautifully finished cocoon-like cabin, however, the XL1 makes all sorts of strange and unusual noises.

      The carbon-ceramic brake discs tend to rumble and chafe when not used hard, the suspension responds to potholes with random thumps and plops, and under trailing throttle the transmission can sound like an ancient coffee grinder.

      In theory, a full charge should make the 5.5kWh lithium ion energy cells take the car over a distance of 30 miles. In reality, however, it is almost impossible to maintain the steady pace required to reach this goal. That´s why it is advisable to switch to hybrid mode as soon as the speed quickens and whenever there are mountains to climb. The two-pot TDI cuts in and out with pursed clutch plates, but especially when still cold, its working noises sound - in contrast to EV silence - like an air hammer trespassing through a quiet zone. Whenever the diesel is taking charge, the batteries can take some rest. While lifting off and coasting are the easiest tricks in the book, braking takes some getting used to because the transition from recuperation to deceleration is a little rough sometimes. After about one hour, you barely ever touch the brake pedal anymore: the XL1 is a clear case of fuel economy by foresight.

      Although the consumption readout should be the pivotal gauge in a one-litre car, our eyes are instead glued to the state of charge indicator. In this difficult environment and in this kind of car, every climb is your worst enemy, every descent is your closest ally.

      Just how efficient in the VW XL1 in real-world driving conditions?
      After 135 miles, by now in test vehicle number three, the computer readout claimed 176.6mpg, at an average speed of 23.1mph - that´s very slow, even for Switzerland and a remaining range of 204km. But these figures don´t tell the whole story. Why? Because I did less well in test vehicles one and two, where the consumption hovered around the 141.2mpg mark. True, that´s an excellent result for a two-seater which can top 100mph when no one is looking, but from a driver´s perspective it is a below par performance in this competitive group of ambitious *****-footers.
      What I shared with the eco pros was the unexpected fascination of slow speed, the joy of changing direction with a totally unassisted steering, the brakes’ double role as competent provider and annihilator of energy, a new perception of the throttle’s talents which is in this case progressive to the point of feeling lazy as well as totally instantaneous, and of course the dynamic kick of a mid-mounted powerplant driving the rear wheels. Not to mention the eerie pleasure of mingling with the most dedicated mpg junkies who automatically idle heating and air con, won´t demist steamed up windows or listen to the radio, and even try to avoid switching on lights in a tunnel.

      We never rushed in the claimed 12.7sec from 0-62mph, and the fastest we saw on the digital speedometer was 78mph. But once, only once, the devil inside took over and made Herr Engineer in the passenger seat unhappy for the rest of the day, because five or ten clicks later his dream of winning the efficiency trophy was over. Apologies for doing what I had to do: stretch the right hoof in the direction of Geneva, change from seventh into fourth via kickdown, and then overtake three cars in a row with an angrily snarling TDI yelling yippieh! through that sleepy valley.
      There is no doubt about it: this low and narrow aero wedge with the mean-looking LED headlights and the spaceship rear end is not only a great fuel miser but also an object lesson in vehicle dynamics. The steering is honest and keen, the chassis is firm and stable, the brakes are prompt and well balanced, the skinny tyres have more grip than that small contact patch suggests, engine and motor are really something when they fuse power and torque.

      The wheelbase is long enough for decent directional stability on fast straights and short enough for carving through hairpins and waltzing through esses. It would have been wonderful to keep up that brisk Tour de Suisse momentum, but the numbers on the in-dash monitor suggested otherwise: consumption 156mpg, SOC 9.5percent, EV mode currently not available. The guilty conscience sat heavy on my shoulders for the rest of the trip to Geneva. At the final destination, the XL1 first consoled itself at the pump and then at the wall charger.

      Verdict
      VW´s one-litre car shows what can be done when brainpower and money are no object. In any case, the plug-in hybrid has got what it takes to become an affordable alternative drivetrain of choice across most of the model range. The two-cylinder PHEV will debut in 2015 in the Up, the three-cylinder PHEV is earmarked for the 2016 Polo replacement, and the four-cylinder PHEV is going to be offered in the Golf VII before the end of 2014.
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      In after Ryukein seal of approval.
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    22. Geriatric Member ValveCoverGasket's Avatar
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      05-03-2013 11:43 AM #21
      incredible it actually went into production

    23. Senior Member
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      05-03-2013 12:11 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by ValveCoverGasket View Post
      incredible it actually went into production
      Is it really? Isn't this Mr Piech's baby (i.e. What he wants... he gets.)?

      While I love the aesthetics of this car, the more important thing I like is the methods/ideas learned from it and how it could be used in future cars. Damn near any MFR can make one of these (and subsidize the cost). The important question is whether or not they will use the lessons learned from what is essentially an engineering/PR project.

      I'm not sure why some are questioning the low volume. Given its content (and thus price), there is no way in hell they could make a profit. And VW is doing too good right now to screw it up with such a pet project trying to futiley be something it cannot be (i.e. Mainstream). I think the low numbers make perfect sense as it gets enough cars out to make a statement and permit VW to learn things about it. But it doesn't drag the volume out in such high numbers as to require $$$ MFG investment (this is probably highly hand-built), which would be quite wasteful. And setting a volume limit so low helps give half a chance enticing crazy-rich early adopters to likely pony up to the likely high price they will ask... to help pay for the materials/piece cost, but likely not the effort it took to get to this point.

    24. Senior Member Ryukein's Avatar
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      05-03-2013 12:14 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by uncleho View Post
      While I love the aesthetics of this car, the more important thing I like is the methods/ideas learned from it and how it could be used in future cars. Damn near any MFR can make one of these (and subsidize the cost). The important question is whether or not they will use the lessons learned from what is essentially an engineering/PR project.
      iirc, they'll be putting the drivetrain from the XL1 (although probably a neutered version) in the Up!
      Quote Originally Posted by ClothSeats View Post
      In after Ryukein seal of approval.
      Quote Originally Posted by Carson Fiber View Post
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    25. 05-03-2013 01:06 PM #24
      a vehicle that does 313 mpg would do a lot to raise CAFE numbers. If this car can get thru US crash regulations I can see vw bring some of these stateside.

    26. Member dmorrow's Avatar
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      05-03-2013 01:54 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by VeeeDoubleU View Post
      a vehicle that does 313 mpg would do a lot to raise CAFE numbers. If this car can get thru US crash regulations I can see vw bring some of these stateside.
      Take 200 cars with extremely high mileage put them in a group with 250,000 cars' mileage and take an average and you will find you can't tell an overall difference.

      I think I read that current DOT requires side mirrors regardless of having cameras. Also, meeting European standards is different than U.S. so I don't see them coming.

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