Volkswagen’s XL1 eco-car is already a thing of wonder. So, how could you make the lightweight, low-drag, special even better? By slotting a 200 PS Ducati motorbike engine into it; that’s how.
For those unsure why an Italian motorbike engine is sitting in the rear of a German sportscar concept, it’s best to remind you that the Volkswagen Group bought Ducati back in 2012, through its Lamborghini subsidiary. So, in some respects, it’s just the same as that EA888 2.0 litre engine appearing in both a VW Golf GTI and the Audi S1. Kind of.
The engine in the XL Sport isn’t just any old Ducati unit though. It’s the 200 PS (197 bhp) V-twin 1,199cc motor taken from the limited edition Ducati Superleggera. It also happens to be the world’s most powerful production two-cylinder engine, and is capable of revving to 11,000 rpm, thanks to some trick titanium connecting rods. Torque is, inevitably, motorbike-engine low at just 99 lb-ft but what more do you need in a carbon-fibre monocoqued car weighing just 890kg?
Performance sees a major advance over the regular economy focused XL1, with a 0-62 mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top-speed of 167 mph. The seven-speed DSG gearbox transmits power to the rear-wheels, making the XL Sport very much like a junior supercar. Such performance has been achieved not only by the impressive power-to-weight ratio, but also by building on the impressive aerodynamics of the original XL1. Despite the widened bodywork, fatter tyres and additional cooling ducts, the XL Sport has a drag coefficient of just 0.258.
Volkswagen has pointed out that the technology used in the XL Sport is predominantly race car derived, from the dual-wishbone suspension with push-road dampers, to the magnesium alloy 18″ wheels and carbon-ceramic brake discs. In fact, the overall looks and proportions of the XL Sport make it more Le Mans prototype than even the ‘normal’ XL1, with an additional 40 cm in length and 18 cm in width emphasising the low-slung profile. As some have already pointed out, it brings the XL Sport to looking even more like the Nardo Supercar concept from 2001.
With a multitude of air intakes and outlets, a huge rear diffuser and a pop-up spoiler (derived from the Lamborghini Aventador) there’s no shortage of features on the XL Sport’s bodywork. A new louvre over the rear hatch includes vents which automatically open and close to cool the V2 engine. Beneath, there’s room for 107-litres of luggage, although the XL Sport is seemingly far more racer than luxurious GT.
Motorsport is also the theme inside, with a digital-dashboard featuring readouts for lap times and oil pressure display. The DSG gearbox has aluminium paddles behind the steering wheel, and a wooden finish gear knob. We’re guessing the latter is inspired by the balsa wood item used in the Porsche 917 race car. Red trim is added to the familiar two-spoke steering wheel, with the seats also sporting the same piping. Although the seats themselves are unchanged from the XL1, red seat belts add a sporting touch. The e-Mirrors – digital rear-facing cameras in place of wing mirrors – also feature from the XL1, with screens mounted in the door to show the view behind.
Although only a concept at present, the XL Sport has clearly been designed to be a production-feasible car. With the XL1 already being produced in low volumes – 250 units – there would seem no reason why Volkswagen could not add an additional 25 to make the XL Sport reality. EngageSportMode truly hopes they do as, regardless of price, one of these on the road would be a pretty special proposition, and one of the best examples of VAG technology sharing.