A sports car based on the super-efficient Volkswagen XL1 (pictured) will debut at the 2014 Geneva auto show with an engine from a Ducati superbike, Autocar reports today. That news corroborates earlier reports from European correspondent Georg Kacher, who revealed the possibility of a high-performance Volkswagen XL1 in the July 2013 issue of Automobile Magazine.
Whereas the Volkswagen XL1 is a super-efficient plug-in hybrid with a two-cylinder diesel engine and 27-hp electric motor, a version called the XR or XLR would instead use a motorcycle engine. Georg Kacher reported after the 2013 Frankfurt auto show that the Volkswagen Group was considering three different versions of performance XL1, including an Audi XS and a Porsche XR. Porsche’s would have used a 1.6-liter turbo-four engine, Volkswagen was considering a 1.2-liter three-cylinder, Audi reportedly planned to borrow a high-revving motorcycle engine from Ducati.
Now Autocar reports that a single model named the Volkswagen XLR will bow at the 2014 Geneva auto show with a 189-hp, 1.2-liter two-cylinder engine from the $18,995 Ducati 1199 Paginale motorcycle. “Yes, we are working on it internally. It is a very special project,” Volkswagen research and development chief Hans-Jakob Neusser told Autocar.
As we previously reported, removing the electric motor and batteries from a Volkswagen XL1 would cut its featherweight 1753-pound mass by another 230 pounds, so even a relatively low-powered engine could provide impressive acceleration. As for performance targets, Kacher wrote earlier this year that, “the target is to beat the 911 for acceleration, top speed, and fuel economy… for less than $50,000.” The car’s track will be widened and it will receive a better-equipped cabin than the XL1. There’s even a remote possibility that the XLR could be sold in limited numbers in the U.S.; the Volkswagen XL1 will not make its way here.
In September, Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Pïech reportedly confirmed plans for a sports car based on the XL1 during a presentation in Vienna. Autocar reports that the finished car will debut publicly in March at the 2014 Geneva show.