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XL1 Test Drive: Volkswagen Lets 261 MPG Car Loose on New York

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Volkswagen XL1 Test Drive

Volkswagen took to the streets of New York for an XL1 Test Drive.

Volkswagen unleashed the future on the streets of New York this past week when the VW XL1 began a month-long tour in the Big Apple this past week.  The XL1 is being hailed as die Zukunft of Das Auto due to both its straight-out-of-sci-fi design and its two-cylinder TDI plug-in hybrid powertrain that enables it to achieve a positively nutters 261 miles per gallon on the European combined fuel economy cycle.

The most fuel-efficient production car in the world, the XL1 weighs an ultra-light 1,753 pounds and boasts a coefficient drag of a mere .189.  It’s powered by a 48 horsepower-producing two-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TDI Clean Diesel engine mated to a 27 horsepower electric motor, seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, and 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery.  Together, this creates the potential for a 62 mph constant cruise that uses only 8.3 horsepower.

According to Volkswagen’s press release, only 250 XL1s will be built at the automaker’s Osnabruck, Germany, assembly plant; the XL1 will carry a price tag of around $145,000 USD.  Three XL1s will tour New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. for the next month to give American drivers a glimpse of what the future of sustainable energy driving holds.

The staff at Jalopnik took their turns behind the wheel and generally enjoyed their experiences, citing more concrete aspects like the manual steering and maneuverability as well as less-tangible perks like the XL1’s craziness, fun factor, and head-turning capabilities as things to love abut VW’s low-emission innovator.

New York Daily News, also fortunate participants in the XL1 test drive in NYC, sums up the Volkswagen XL1’s 261 mpg capabilities in one well-mapped trip: “At 261 mpg, the XL1 is able to drive from Washington, D.C. to New York City, make a lap around Manhattan, and cross the Brooklyn Bridge three times—all on just one tank of gas.”

While that all sounds like a trip worth taking, there are no plans for Volkswagen to bring the XL1 to the United States—it actually doesn’t even meet U.S. road safety standards.  We can only hope that enough of the XL1’s design language and powertrain finds its way into the automaker’s next North America-bound vehicle.