It must have been like déjà vu for the members of Volkswagen's supervisory board: just as he did 10 years ago with the L1, Volkswagen Group Board Chairman Ferdinand Piech rolled up in the latest example of his one-liter car pet project, the XL1.
This isn't the first time that Piech has driven an example of Volkswagen's one-liter car to a board meeting – 10 years ago, Piech piloted an early example of the L1 concept car from Wolfsburg to the board meeting almost 100 miles away in Hamburg, Germany. (He also wore a very dashing hat and scarf combination.) Joining Piech and Winterkorn this year was Piech's wife – and now supervisory board member – Ursula, along with David McAllister, the Minister President of the German state of Lower Saxony.
Both XL1 cars are powered by a plug-in hybrid system that uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 48-hp, two-cylinder diesel engine paired with an electric motor, which produces an additional 27 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor can also power the XL1 on its own for up to around 22 miles. That may not sound like a lot of power, but the XL1 weighs just 1753 pounds thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber.
As we found in our first drive of the XL1 last year, the XL1 may not be fast but it has precise steering and an adequate amount of power for use on normal roads. (Volkswagen claims a 0-62 mph time of 11.9 seconds.) The car is nimble thanks to the slippery aerodynamics, direct steering, and low weight provided by the carbon fiber-reinforced polymer construction. Under heavy throttle, the diesel engine kicks on loudly: sound deadening is rather heavy and therefore lacking in the XL1.
Volkswagen has yet to change its initial plan to have a limited run of XL1s on sale by 2013. However, the two-cylinder diesel may not carry over into production – instead, we could see a direct-injected, turbocharged gasoline two-cylinder in its place.