A hybrid car getting 50 miles-per-gallon is no longer a big deal, but how about one that gets over 200 miles-per-gallon? That’s what Volkswagen claims is possible in the XL1. And while VW has no current plans to bring the XL1 stateside, chances are that a few of the 250 being built will find their way here. 

The XL1 is indeed all about fuel economy; a 2-seater built around a carbon fiber monoccoque chassis; with a plug-in hybrid system consisting of a rear mounted 2-cylinder 0.8-liter diesel engine and 5.5kWhs worth of lithium-ion batteries that live up front. 

Electric only mode is about 30-miles, then it reverts to hybrid mode; top speed 99 miles-per-hour. 

We got a chance to take a spin in an XL1 around Wolfsburg, Germany. And as odd and futuristic looking as it is outside, inside it looks and drives fairly normal, except for the display screens for the side mounted cameras that replace the side mirrors. 

In a loop that included some city traffic, some 2-lane roads, and even some top speed time on the autobahn we managed to average 147 miles-per-gallon. 

BRIAN ROBINSON: I have driven the future and it is good. It’s pretty amazing actually. Despite the small engine, the electric motor and DSG transmission get the car up to speed fast enough; and even with the low weight, the car still feels pretty substantial.

JOHN DAVIS: The XL1 truly is a purposeful design that lacks power steering and sound deadening materials, but does have noisy carbon ceramic brakes. Still we think many people would love to live with that if they could get 200 miles-per-gallon. We’ll keep you posted on price and availability if and when the XL1 heads to the U.S.


  • Engine: 2-cylinder 0.8-liter diesel engine