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Ducati-Powered Volkswagen XL Sport Concept Debuts in Paris

Volkswagen Group is taking advantage of owning Ducati by co-opting one of the brand's superbike engines for use in a new concept car. The Volkswagen XL Sport on display at the 2014 Paris auto show combines the powertrain from the Ducati 1199 Superleggera motorcycle with the sleek chassis and body of the Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrid.

Nestled inside the carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) monocoque is a modified version of the 1.2-liter, two-cylinder engine from the Ducati 1199 Superleggera. Revving to 11,000 rpm and featuring titanium connecting rods, the engine produces 197 hp and 99 lb-ft of torque. While that doesn't sound like much, the Volkswagen XL Sport tips the scales at just 1962 pounds and is ultra-slippery, with a drag coefficient of 0.258. With a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission dispensing power to the rear wheels, the XL Sport hits 62 mph in a claimed 5.7 seconds and can manage 168 mph.

The standard Volkswagen XL1, meanwhile, is a plug-in hybrid that mates a 47-hp two-cylinder diesel engine and a 27-hp electric motor, with incredible fuel efficiency as the ultimate goal.

Compared to the eco-minded XL1, the Volkswagen XL Sport also has several sporty handling upgrades. It rides on wider performance tires (204/40 R18 front and 265/35 R18 rear), features has strengthened steel suspension subframes, uses racing-style pushrod rear shock absorbers, and boasts carbon-ceramic brakes.

Aesthetic changes compared to the XL1 include a new front fascia with extra intake ducts to channel cool air to the rear-mounted engine, a black underbody diffuser, twin chrome exhaust tips, and an electrically operated rear spoiler that uses the same mechanism as the wing on a Lamborghini Aventador. Prominent black side skirts bear "Motore Ducati" decals in deference to the car's powertrain. Within the cabin, the digital instrument cluster prominently shows a lap timer and oil-pressure readout. As on the XL1, the Volkswagen XL Sport lacks sideview mirrors, instead showing the view from two rear-facing cameras on small LCD screens. Red stitching and aluminum shift paddles adorn the steering wheel, while a special carbon-fiber dashboard cover is designed to eliminate any reflections on the windshield. Red seat belts, anodized aluminum trim pieces, and bucket seats complete the visual upgrade.

While the Volkswagen XL Sport is for now only a concept, it's long been rumored that such a vehicle would enter limited production. Early rumors suggested the car might be called the XLR and would have power from a Ducati sportbike. Given that this concept closely follows that recipe, we're eager to see whether Volkswagen executives will approve a limited run of the XL Sport.