The Volkswagen XL1 was born out of the company’s desire to build an ultra-efficient vehicle to be able to travel 100 km on only one liter of diesel fuel or around 240 U.S. mpg. The first concept was shown to the world in 2002, with an improved model, dubbed L1, showcased in 2009. The study gained the XL1 shape we’re all familiar with in 2011 as a diesel plug-in hybrid prototype. An updated production version rolled out in early 2012, when Volkswagen announced a limited-edition car will be built starting 2013. The XL1 is propelled by a 0.8-liter, two-cylinder TDI engine rated at 48 horsepower and an electric motor generating 27 ponies. The XL1 is expected to achieve a fuel economy of 260 mpg using both units, and return 120 mpg on diesel fuel alone. The all-electric range sits at 31 miles. As the 250 units slated to hit public roads are still being assembled as of October 2014, the company has developed a brand-new iteration of the XL1, named XL Sport.

As suggested by its name, the new vehicle is a sportier version of the XL1. Unlike the latter, the XL Sport runs on gasoline and uses a Ducati motorcycle engine. Although it shares most of its body and interior with the XL1, the XL Sport features a racing-inspired body, rides on a motorsport-tuned chassis and comes with a handful of carbon-fiber body parts. Showcased at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the XL Sport is nothing more than a concept that celebrates the 200 million vehicles assembled by Volkswagen as of October 2014.

Updated 10/01/2014: The long-rumored XL Sport finally made its world debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. Details after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the standard Volkswagen XL1.

  • 2015 Volkswagen XL Sport
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Transmission:
    7-speed DSG
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    197 @ 11000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    98
  • Displacement:
    1.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    167.7 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    250000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The XL Sport’s rear end seems redesigned almost from the ground up, with only the taillights hinting that its design is based on the XL1’s

While the XL1 is quite the futuristic type when it comes to styling, the XL Sport takes things up a notch by blending those design cues with the more aggressive features of a sports car. The extensive modifications begin up front, where the XL1’s flat nose received a couple of side vents, an aerodynamic splitter, a larger bumper air dam and a vented hood. The front fascia also reveals the XL Sport is wider and sits lower than its hybrid sibling.

The differences between the two are even bigger around back. The XL Sport’s rear end seems redesigned almost from the ground up, with only the taillights hinting that its design is based on the XL1’s. The fascia itself has been reconfigured to include a large, honeycomb grille, while VW moved the taillights away from the edges. Down below there’s a carbon-fiber diffuser with four fins and two exhaust tips integrated near the sides. The rear end is rounded off by a brand-new hood, an adjustable wing and massive, motorsport-inspired side vents in the fenders.

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The XL Sport is a lot more aggressive thanks to its flared fenders and the air intakes flanking the door

Massive changes are noticeable on the sides as well. Although the overall lines of the XL1 remain the same, the XL Sport is a lot more aggressive thanks to its flared fenders and the air intakes flanking the door. The side skirts have also been redesigned and fitted with a tricolor and a "Motore Ducati" decal. The final touch includes a set of 18-inch, forged-magnesium wheels. Wrapped in high-performance tires, the new rollers are 52.6 pounds lighter that the XL1’s aluminum rims.

Naturally, the XL Sport’s entire structure is about lightweight materials, not just the wheels. Much like the XL1, the XL Sport has its entire body made from carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP), while the lower body parts, including the front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser, are crafted from carbon-fiber. The vehicle tips the scale at only 890 kg (1,962 pounds), making it a tad lighter than a Lotus Elise.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 4,291 MM (168.93 Inches)
Width 1,847 MM (72.71 Inches)
Height 1,152 MM (45.35 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,424 MM (95.43 Inches)
Weight 890 kg (1,962 LBS)

Interior

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport Interior
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2015 Volkswagen XL Sport Interior
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2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Interior
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The vehicle’s race-like character is mirrored by a new, motorsport-inspired digital instrument cluster

Volkswagen used the XL1’s interior as a base for the XL Sport’s cabin, but added several enhancements and unique features. The vehicle’s race-like character is mirrored by a new, motorsport-inspired digital instrument cluster with individual lap time and oil-pressure display. To eliminate reflections, Volkswagen also added a flat carbon part on the top of the instrument cluster, a feat borrowed from the world of motorsports as well.

Other highlights include anodized-aluminum accents around the air vents and the DSG shift gate. The shift paddles behind the steering wheel are also made from anodized aluminum. Rounding out the cabin red contrast stitching on the seats and the seat belts.

Drivetrain

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport Drawings
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The XL Sport draws its power from a 1.2-liter V-2 that screams all the way up to 11,000 rpm and generates 197 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque

Unlike the XL1 hybrid, which is motivated by a combo consisting of a 0.8-liter, two-cylinder, diesel engine and an electric motor, the XL Sport relies solely on gasoline power. But the juice doesn’t come from any of Volkswagen’s familiar powerplants. For the XL Sport, the Germans turned to motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, which the Volkswagen Group has owned since 2012, and its 1199 Superleggera engines. Specifically, the XL Sport draws its power from a 1.2-liter V-2 that screams all the way up to 11,000 rpm and generates 197 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque.

It might not sound like a lot of oomph, but the low curb weight, the race-tuned chassis, and the quick-shifting DSG gearbox enable the XL Sport to sprint from naught to 62 mph in only 5.7 seconds. Top speed sits at 167 mph, which is a fair bit more than the typical 155-mph top speed of most high-performance German vehicles. The high top speed owes some thanks to the XL Sport’s aerodynamic design and 0.258 drag coefficient.

Drivetrain/Specifications

Type V-2
Output 197 HP @ 11,000 RPM
Torque 98 LB-FT
Transmission 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG)
0 -100 km/h (62 mph) 5.7 seconds
Top speed 270 km/h (167.7 mph)

Prices

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport Exterior
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While Volkswagen is planning on building 250 XL1 hybrids, there’s no indication that the XL Sport will become a production vehicle. The Germans will most likely make a decision on that after gauging the public’s reaction to the car at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. In the meantime, the XL Sport remains a unique sports car built to celebrate the 200 million vehicles produced by Volkswagen as of October 1st, 2014.

Competition

Lotus Elise S Cup

2015 Lotus Elise S Cup Exterior
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If the Volkswagen XL Sport should make it to production, it would have all the credentials to challenge lightweight sports like the Lotus Elise. Currently in its second generation, the Elise platform is rather old, but that didn’t stop the British automaker from launching the S Cup. Essentially the road-legal version of the Cup R race car, the S Cup features a number of unique exterior enhancements, a race-spec interior and a drivetrain tweaked to deliver 217 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

All that oomph comes from the same Toyota-sourced, supercharged, 1.8-liter, four-cylinder powerplant and travels to the rear wheels through a six-speed, quick-shift manual gearbox. Although a tad heavier than the XL Sport at 2,054 pounds, the Elise S Cup is quick enough to complete the 0-to-60-mph sprint in less than five seconds. The Lotus’ top speed sits at 140 mph. The vehicle retails from €47,500, which is around $59,940 as of 10/02/2014.

Conclusion

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The XL1 is arguably the most exciting concept car Volkswagen has built since the W12 supercar. Sure, it’s not the kind of vehicle that would establish new speed records, but it comes with a futuristic and practical design, tons of technology, outstanding fuel economy, and low CO2 emissions. With the XL Sport, Volkswagen took nearly everything but the fuel-efficient drivetrain of the XL1, and created a vehicle that fills the all-important sports car gap in its lineup. More importantly, VW is also out to prove that you don’t necessarily need six or eight cylinders to build a high-performance car, although this statement needs to be backed by a production version of the XL Sport.

All told, the XL Sport is a unique appearance in today’s automotive market, one that says a lot about the effort VW is putting into developing innovative drivetrain solutions. Powered by a motorcycle engine or not, the XL Sport needs to become a production car that can tackle both the road and track. It has huge potential as a limited-edition model, and Volkswagen could use it to finally join the sports car wars.

  • Leave it
    • * Only a concept car
    • * Might not become a production vehicle
    • * A production car would be expensive

Press Release

There has never been a sports car like the XL Sport concept being showcased by Volkswagen in a world premiere at the Paris Motor Show. A car that uncompromisingly furthers the development of the lightweight sports car in its very essence. A 270 km/h driving machine based on the XL1, the most efficient car of all time. Efficiency and emotion compellingly recombined. At the rear of the XL Sport sits one of the finest achievements in engine technology – the V2 adapted from the new Ducati 1199 Superleggera, the world’s most powerful two-cylinder motorcycle. Like the XL1, of which only 250 units will be built, the Superleggera is also being manufactured in a limited edition (500 units), in a process that embraces hand fabrication and high-precision industrial manufacturing technologies alike. The XL1 and the Superleggera, two icons of lightweight carbon and magnesium design technology, thus unite to create a unique sports car. With the XL Sport, the group brands Volkswagen and Ducati impressively demonstrate how high-tech developments can lead to synergies between brands and be used by both parties as modules for new concepts.

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The technical matrix

Pioneering aerodynamics. The Ducati 1199 Superleggera has the best power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle in history. In the world of the motor car, the XL Sport achieves something similar. In this case it is the ratio between weight (890 kg), power (147 kW / 200 PS) and aerodynamics (cd x A = 0.44 m2) that currently makes this concept car the fastest 200 PS car in the world. No other sports car has ever reached a top speed of 270 km/h with 200 PS. One stand-out feature in this is the vehicle’s aerodynamics. As indicated above, the coefficient of the drag coefficient (0.258) and the vehicle’s frontal area (1.7 m2) is 0.44 m2. This is one of the best values ever achieved and a major triumph for Volkswagen’s aerodynamics engineers and designers, made all the more impressive due to the fact that as a thoroughbred sports car, the concept’s design brief demands wide tyres, a high requirement for cooling air and optimal downforce. There are a number of individual features that contribute to the XL Sport’s arrow-like performance in addition to the uncompromising aerodynamic styling of the body. These include special air curtains that direct the air in the frontal area into specific channels, wheel arch ventilation, a further optimised underbody, lift-reducing air ducts in the bonnet, an extendible rear spoiler (powered by the same unit as in the Lamborghini Aventador) and adaptive waste heat vents incorporated in the rear hatch (louvre that opens and closes automatically as required to conduct excess engine heat away).

The world’s most powerful two-cylinder engine. The Ducati 1199 Superleggera’s V2 engine was slightly modified for use in the XL Sport but is basically the same as the motorcycle engine. Thanks to its tough, lightweight titanium connecting rods, the 1,199 cc DOHC engine can attain speeds up to 11,000 rpm. The Superquadro’s high speeds are made possible by its extreme bore/stroke ratio (112 mm/60.8 mm) and the exceptionally short crankshaft stroke associated with it. In addition, the two four-valve cylinders, which are arranged at an angle of 90° to each other, feature a desmodromic valve control system (positive valve closure) that is typical of the high-revving Ducati engines and requires the finest of precision engineering to ensure optimum valve clearance. Other features of the world’s most powerful two-cylinder engine are the magnesium alloy clutch, cylinder head and oil pan covers, the two disks of the throttle valves, and the two injectors per cylinder. Last but by no means least, the XL Sport has a newly developed intermediate gearbox to reduce engine speeds by a factor of 1.86. Torque from the V2 engine (134 Nm) is transmitted to the rear axle via a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG).

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Racing chassis. The way this lightweight sports car is propelled by its engine is worthy of some note. The car’s acceleration from 0–100 km/h in 5.7 seconds almost becomes a secondary issue when considering the impressive combination of the vehicle’s high-revving V2 engine, low weight, perfect aerodynamics and significantly redesigned chassis that together take the XL Sport straight into the realm of the racing circuit. The chassis, incorporated in a high-strength steel space frame, consists of a double wishbone front axle with the dampers connected below in a pull rod configuration, and a double wishbone rear axle with the dampers connected above in a push rod configuration – here too, the parallels with motor racing are impossible to overlook. High-speed tyres sized 205/40 R 18 (front) and 265/35 R 18 (rear) embrace forged magnesium wheels, which offer a total weight reduction of 23.9 kg compared with aluminium wheels. The XL Sport is decelerated by an extremely stable brake system with ceramic discs.

CFRP body. The XL Sport is a sister model of the XL1. Both share the same basic design. The main element they have in common is the body, many parts of which are manufactured in carbon-reinforced polymer (CFRP), with a monocoque featuring slightly offset seats for the driver and passenger. Here, Volkswagen prefers CFRP components manufactured using the RTM process (Resin Transfer Moulding). The density of this material or its specific gravity is just 20% that of a comparable steel exterior skin, yet it is just as rigid and strong.

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Wing doors that swing forwards. The wing doors of the XL1 and XL Sport are reminiscent of those of a high-end sports car. They are hinged at two points: low on the A-pillars and just above the windscreen in the roof frame, so they do not just swivel upwards, but slightly forwards as well. The doors also extend far into the roof. When they are opened, they create an exceptionally large amount of entry and exit space. The door windows are made of polycarbonate. The upper part of the windows is firmly attached to the exterior door skin due to the specifications of lightweight design, while a segment of the lower area of the side windows can be opened. The windscreen of both models is manufactured from a special type of thin glass.

Dimensions and Design

Compelling proportions. Despite sharing ground with the X1 in terms of its underlying design, the XL Sport has a look of its own. The reason for this is that whereas the XL1 was designed for uncompromising fuel efficiency, the design brief of the XL Sport took this a step further with the inclusion of uncompromising driving dynamics. The special requirements regarding the downforce values of a 270 km/h car and the parameters of the drive technology led to the XL Sport being longer and wider than the XL1. Dimensions in detail: The XL Sport showcased in Paris is 4,291 mm long (XL1: 3,888 mm), 1,847 mm wide (XL1: 1,664 mm), 1,152 mm high (XL1: 1,153 mm). The wheelbase has also been increased to 2,424 mm (XL1: 2,224 mm). These proportions in themselves create a compelling look.

Design concept. When extreme proportions encounter an innovative, progressive and precise design, icons are created. Such is the case with the XL Sport. As outlined above, the concept car builds on the dynamic and extravagant design of the XL1. The monolithic surfaces have an even more muscular appearance as they extend over the significantly broader wings and the large wheels. With extreme proportions and lines which are powerful and precise in equal measure, the XL Sport is broad and low on the road, dominating it with an untamed dynamism even when stationary. The precise, clear surfaces and shapes of the XL Sport are more than just the expression of a sporty aesthetic: the aerodynamic engineers and designers have worked hand in hand to create a sculpture that is both highly appealing and aerodynamically perfect.

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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The design of the front section. The broad front section of the XL Sport exudes an unmistakable charisma with its dual LED headlights and the signature of the LED daytime running lights that is characteristic of the XL1. As mentioned, the front of the XL Sport features air intakes on each side of the headlights for the air curtains which feed the air optimally around the car’s bow and front sides. In common with the X1, the front section of the XL Sport does not have a conventional radiator grille, yet it retains the current Volkswagen design DNA, with horizontal lines dominating this area: specifically, a black cross-stripe combines with the dual headlights to form a continuous band. The actual air supply for cooling the Ducati engine is via vents in the rear wings.

The design of the silhouette. Whereas the XL1 is at its widest at the front and tapers towards the rear, the XL Sport is just as wide at the back as at the front. From above, the shape is that of a classic racing car, with the doors retracted like a waist. Looking at a side view of the wings and doors it is obvious why: here, at each of the A and B pillars, there are distinctive air inlets and outlets to ensure an optimum air flow and for cooling the drive unit. In addition it gives the silhouette an exciting stretched appearance that promises power yet exudes a rare elegance and a timeless beauty. Observers will look for door mirrors in vain; replacing them are small streamlined cameras integrated in the wing doors: e-Mirrors (digital outside mirrors) that send images of the surroundings behind the car to two displays inside the vehicle (e-Mirrors made their debut in the XL1). In front of the rear wheel arches, ’Motore Ducati’ lettering refers to the 1199 Superleggera engine in the rear.

The design of the rear section. As illustrated, the XL Sport gives off a completely different impression compared with the XL1, especially at the rear, as this is now significantly wider. At the same time, the new XL Sport also has four specific features that catch the eye. First, the extremely wide, flat rear with its distinctive shoulders (powerful, wide surfaces above the wheels) and the extendible rear spoiler which occupies almost the full width of the vehicle’s rear end. Second, as with the XL1 there is the coupé-shaped roofline without rear windscreen. Merging into the roofline is the rear hatch that conceals the Ducati engine, the 7-speed DSG and 107 litres of luggage space. Another new feature of the XL Sport: a louvre comprised of five slats that are seated flush in the rear hatch, which, depending on the temperature, open automatically to cool the drive unit. Third, the iconic red LED ribbon that follows the shape of the rear section. At the sides the ribbon is framed by another, vertical, LED element which serves to emphasise the width of the XL Sport. Fourth, there is a black diffuser that merges almost seamlessly into the completely enclosed underbody and is finished at each side with a chrome exhaust tailpipe.

2015 Volkswagen XL Sport High Resolution Exterior
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Interior design. The interior of the XL Sport is based on the interior of the XL1, but has been modified and individualised with a number of special details conforming with the complete realignment of the vehicle’s dynamic. For example, the XL Sport boasts a characteristic digital instrument cluster specially designed for motor sports, with an individual lap time and oil pressure display. A flat carbon part that extends the top of the instrument cluster covering to completely eliminate reflections. The XL Sport’s steering wheel has decorative red stitching and has been equipped with aluminium shift paddles to facilitate ultra quick gear shifts. There are further classy details to add a sporty touch, with anodised aluminium accents around the air vents, the climate control fascia and the DSG shift gate. Picking up the theme of the contrasting red stitching in the steering wheel, the seat belts are also red. No changes have been made to the perfect ergonomics enjoyed by the driver and passenger.

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