There are some cars that look like they’re meant for the future. Shiny and gleaming, there’s something mysterious to their look. Which is simple, really: if they didn’t look strangely different, then how much of a leap into the future could they be?
The Volkswagen XL1 has exactly this quality. The broad front end has a single, thin strip of lighting that stretches into chiseled indentations of LEDs below the head lamps. The body narrows toward the rear into two covered wheels—why must they be covered?—that are spaced substantially closer together than the fronts’. And the body? Stars aren’t the only things that can twinkle.
The main appeal of this space-age looking vehicle though is not its looks, but its gas tank.
That tank, which supports a diesel engine, complements the electric motor and battery pack that make the vehicle a hybrid with six times the fuel efficiency of the Toyota Prius.
That’s right, six times. The Toyota Prius has been the long-reigning fuel efficiency champ for years, and it’s left in the eco-friendly dust by this mini-Millennium Falcon of clean energy. Six times the fuel efficiency translates into 261 miles to the gallon.
How does the XL1 do this? There’s no magic to it, really. When you make something out of ultra-lightweight materials like aluminum, magnesium, polycarbonate, plastic bolstered by carbon, and even wood pulp, the whole concept of being “green” makes a lot of sense—the thing is made out of simple materials that don’t require heavy industrialization.
This lack of industrialization means that you won’t find expansive, super high-tech touchscreens inside that whir at your fingertips and chirp confirmations as you engage warp speed. Instead you’re looking at simple mechanical devices—switches and knobs—to exact control as you spin around the globe.
No one will know this from the outside, however. Seen from behind, most people will think you have nothing less than some brand new energy cube powering your “car,” thanks to dove-tailing fenders, dual vents that open to the sky and the lack of a rear window—don’t worry, rearview cameras will help you sort out backing into parking spaces.
There are trade-offs, of course. The fuel-saving materials do hardly anything to block out road and engine noise. The price is $145,000. Only 250 will be made. And they won’t be sold in the U.S. But crazy dreams such as this are what propel us into the future, one fuel-efficient mile at a time. Stay tuned. In the meantime check out the Volkswagen Eos, which is available, at Leith Volkswagen.