You might have seen us post stories a few weeks ago about Volkswagen’s XL Sport during the Paris Motor Show. It’s an aggressive, boldly-styled two-door roadster designed to make a visual statement, and it got the attention it was looking for.
The most striking feature about this car, however, is not its looks but its engine. VW fans will recognize the wide mouth of the XL1, a hyper-efficient prototype concept that gets about 261 miles to the gallon. That same front design is present in the XL Sport and is a hint that this model is more fuel-saving magic than gas-guzzling muscle power.
Sure enough, we learned that the XL Sport is actually powered by a Ducati motorcycle engine. As a two-cylinder engine that provides just 197 horsepower, 99 lb-ft of torque and a charming 11,000 RPM limit, this is a classic biker dream. So why put it in a futuristic roadster? Shouldn’t it get an asphalt-flattening supercharged V8 with hundreds of horsepower that does 0-60 in the length of a sneeze?
Cars can still be sexy. They can still go fast. They can have smooth mechanics and ultra-modern features. But huge tanks full of gasoline that evaporate in pedal-to-the-medal driving? According to Volkswagen, that’s medieval. We needed rockets once to get us to the moon, but that was 50 years ago. What the modern world needs are small spacecraft that do more with less.
That is a bold statement. It would be much easier to talk about 0-60 times. Instead, Volkswagen built the XL Sport with carbon-fiber reinforced polymer, a special material to reduce weight. It’s figuring out how to use fewer cylinders, not more. It’s trying innovative blends of fuels—diesel with hybrid technology, in this case.
In essence, Volkswagen is trying to change the entire culture of the automobile industry, and it’s doing so right in plain sight. Will the rest of the world pick up on this shift in tone? Maybe. You can bet, however, that as MPG requirements move higher and gas prices make our wallets tighter, Volkswagen’s vehicles will be more relevant as the people’s car than ever before.
In the meantime, as your center for VW repair in Raleigh, stop by for all of your Volkswagen needs.