It takes a bit of effort to slip in under the gullwing doors and then wedge oneself into the low-slung seat of the Volkswagen XL1. And it’s even more difficult for my co-pilot as the passenger seat is set slightly rearward, almost tandem-style.
The simple reality is that the windswept two-seater isn’t built for comfort. The Volkswagen XL1 was designed for maximum mileage. And we’re not talking something like the mere 50 to 60 miles per gallon of today’s best hybrids, nor the 100 mpg “equivalent” ratings of some of the latest battery-electric vehicles. No, this diesel plug-in hybrid recently received a mind-boggling rating from European authorities of 261 miles per gallon, far and away an all-time record.
Describing the XL1 as “my baby,” program manager Steven Volckaert notes the project has been underway for more than a decade, with the original goal of squeezing out 100 kilometers from a single liter of fuel. For the metrically challenged, that works out to about 235 mpg.