You’re engaged in some innocent retail therapy and then this beams down from planet Piëch.
As we’ve pointed out, Driven to Write never sleeps and while we don’t always get about as much as we’d like, our eyes and ears are everywhere. So while some of us are battening down hatches in windswept West Cork, others get to swan around a decidedly more temperate Marbella – a matter for which your correspondent is not bitter.
Now clearly, the sight of a VW XL1 even in Cork’s fashionable out of town shopping outlet of Mahon Point would undoubtedly elicit the sort of panic that would do Orson Wells proud, but equally its appearance at Marbella’s La Cañada Parque Comercial must have elicited at least several raised eyebrows.
Parked outside an relatively upscale Spanish retail outlet is one thing, but its proximity to a branch of Leroy Merlin (other DIY providers are available) begs the question of how the owner intends getting that flat pack wardrobe home? Perhaps they deliver.
Actually, I’m talking nonsense here. The owner of this vehicle isn’t DIY shopping – you need big pockets to purchase, let alone maintain one of these five-figure babies. Forget your Veyron, this my friends, is serious exotica. Conceptually speaking, XL1 was the third evolution of Volkswagen’s 1-litre car programme. The brainchild (or vanity project) of Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, Volkswagen’s former chairman and creative mastermind who envisaged a practical and usable production car with fuel consumption of one litre per 100 km – (283 mpg in Brexit parlance).
XL1 is 3,888 mm long, 1,665 mm wide and just 1,153 mm tall – similar in length and width to a Polo. Even a Lamborghini Gallardo is taller. XL1’s design objectives called for low weight (795 kg), perfect aerodynamics (Cd 0.189) and a low centre of gravity – all of which you can be sure was rigorously adhered to, because after all, you really wouldn’t like uncle Ferdi when he’s pissed off.
XL1 was powered by a 47-hp two-cylinder diesel engine, essentially a sectioned 1.6-liter turbocharged and intercooled TDI unit, working in tandem with an electric motor and a 60-cell, 5.5-kWh, 150-pound lithium-ion battery pack, giving about a 30 mile electric-only range. To achieve these figures, weight was pared ruthlessly. The highly aerodynamic body was made from carbon fibre, aluminium and magnesium, the paintwork was 50% thinner than normal, and there was no sound insulation. Rolling resistance was minimised by fitting 115/80R-15 front tyres and 145/55R-16 rear, inflated to 44 psi.
Production of these hybrid hypercars began in 2013 at the former Karmann facility, with numbers limited to 250 cars, so the chance of sighting one is remote in the extreme. Nice to see the owner has the chutzpah to actually use it.
My thanks to JMC & MD for the photos.