Hear the word supercar and you’re likely to be put in mind of something that sounds German or Italian – all fast and liquid metal-styled. What you aren’t likely to do is to think of a badge like VW. What if the term “supercar” could be applied to any car that was super one way another – say in the way it was super frugal and fuel-efficient? Time was, that when you thought of fuel efficiency in a car, the Prius and its 70mpg seemed possibly advanced. Is that the best that hybrid mpg can go? What will a super fuel-efficient car be able to achieve one day? The fact is, that car might already be here. It may not be a fast car; it’s puny engine of 800cc might look like it belongs in a Smart car rather than any car that would wish to call itself “super”. But practical it is: it is the new VW XL1 super frugal car of the future – the hybrid that does 313 mpg.
Now, this isn’t one of those crazy ultra-mileage contraptions where you have to go about with no air-conditioning, no stereo and no seats (for a low kerb weight). It’s a beautifully-constructed VW concept car that gives you every luxury that you have come to expect of a modern production car. VW has been working on its ultra-mileage concepts for about 30 years now. About the year 2000, they came out with a car called the Lupo whose hybrid mpg was 94. As if that wasn’t enough, the company’s design team at that time began work on what was to be their greatest achievement – the 280mpg hybrid concept. The design team took the idea and ran with it. The result is what they have come up with today – the 313mpg XL1 concept – a plug-in hybrid with a very small engine and very big fuel savings. When driven at an average 45mpg, the car actually does about 300mpg.
The car of course, is just a concept at this time. It may be kind of noisy, it msay be uncomfortable to drive, but the feeling that every drop of fuel actually propels you forward about half a mile can be exhilarating.The latest version of the concept is powered by a 1.6 liter diesel engine that powers the rear wheels and a 27bhp electric motor supplied by a rather small 5KWh plug-in lithium-ion battery). The car remains all electric up until you reach about 60 mph. Once you try to go any faster than that, the diesel engine kicks in and takes over. The battery itself is enough juice to take the car a full 220 miles all by itself (and a full charge takes about a couple of hours). Coupled with a diesel engine, the car, fully juiced up, can go about 300 miles.
The shape of the car is pretty delightful – kind of reminiscent of the DeLorean’s take on what makes for a futuristic design. Inside, the car has plenty of space for two full-sized adults and little else. Everywhere you look in the car, space age lightweight materials are in use – it’s all aluminum or carbon fiber or composites. This being a VW though, the build quality is top notch. The car at this time is a bit unrefined, of course; but it shows plenty of potential. There is a reason that VW is involving itself in this project. Global warming is a reality. And if the world is to limit the effects of man-made atmospheric pollution to no more than a 2-degree rise in the temperature of the earth in about 50 years, every car on Earth will have to have hybrid mpg figures like this. The best part is, this isn’t just some self-indulgent concept car. It’s actually going to come to dealerships next to you.