Volkswagen wanted to build the most efficient car possible with the technology of the time. It's economy is still impressive.

At a price of 110,000 euros ($150,000 at that period's exchange rates) and a limited run of 200 units, the Volkswagen XL1 never amounted to more than a curiosity in the green car segment. Seeing one on the road is a rare experience, and the lozenge-shaped coupe doesn’t look out of place driving with a fleet of Porsches and Ferraris in this video.

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The XL1 was a supercar, but instead of focusing on speed, the emphasis was on efficiency. The little two-seater achieved still-astounding fuel efficiency of 261 miles per gallon US. The plug-in hybrid combined a two-cylinder diesel engine making just 47 horsepower (35 kilowatts) and an electric motor with 27 hp (20 kW). A 5.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-hour battery provided power for the system and allowed for an electric-only range of 31 miles (50 km)

VW built each XL1 by hand. Exotic materials like ceramic brake discs and a carbon fiber body kept the weight down to 1,753 pounds (795 kilograms). To reduce drag, the designers used a teardrop shape with an exterior that tapered inward toward the rear. 

The emphasis on economy didn’t allow for neck-snapping performance on the road. The sprint to 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) required a sluggish 12.7 seconds, and a speed limiter only allowed the XL1 to reach 99.4 mph (160 kph) 

The XL1 remains pricey on the second-hand market. For example, a VW dealer in Newcastle, England, has had one for sale for 99,999 pounds ($133,000) for several months. The car has covered just 10 miles (16 kilometers) since new.

Rumors around the time of the XL1’s release pointed to the possibility of a sporty version called the XL Sport. It would have used a Ducati-sourced 1.2-liter twin with 188 hp (140 kW) and 91 lb-ft (123 Nm).

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Source: Automotive Mike via YouTube