Volkswagen XL Sport Concept races into the spotlight
Putting a high-performance spin on the original, efficiency-oriented XL1 that was shown last year in Geneva, Volkswagen surprised the crowds in Paris by unveiling this boldly recast variation on the theme: the XL Sport Concept. While sharing a good deal of its lightweight engineering with VW's limited-production mileage-maxing plug-in hybrid that delivers 261 mpg, this new concept matches bolder looks and a redesigned chassis with a 197-horsepower Ducati motorcycle engine that ups the performance quotient.
Although retaining the XL1's largely polycarbonate structure and an extremely clean aero profile, the new XL Sport does have the look of a serious racer. Longer and wider, it carries over the swing-up door configuration and remains a mere 45.5 inches tall. However, the wheelbase has been stretched by 7.8-inches and the revamped fenders are more aggressively contoured to house 205/40 tires on 18-inch ultralight forged magnesium wheels up front and 265/35 rubber at the rear. The rest of the XL Sport's bodywork also has been redone to emphasize its go-fast character. An edgier front fascia features new cooling vents, while functional intakes ahead to the rear wheel arches are complemented by five louvers in the rear roof that automatically deploy to extract engine heat. Rounding out the exterior redo is a large articulated rear spoiler and prominent lower diffuser flanked by a pair of chrome exhaust outlets.
To ensure the XL Sport lives up to its name, this exhilarating VW one-off has a rear-mounted 1,199cc Ducati Superleggera V-Twin engine matched to a 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Developed by the famed Italian motorcycle manufacturer presently owned by the Audi group, the world's most powerful 2-cylinder revs to 11,000 rpm and makes over 100 more horsepower than the XL1's turbodiesel hybrid setup. That output can send the XL Sport sprinting from 0-62 mph in 5.7 seconds and carry it on to a 168 mph top speed. As a finishing touch, the XL Sport also features a fully retuned/revamped suspension and is fitted with race-spec carbon-ceramic disc brakes.
The 2-place cabin of the new Volkswagen XL Sport Concept builds off of the XL1's basic design theme but gains a number of unique cues and performance-oriented trim accents to reinforce its more competitive character. These include a carbon fiber cowl panel that eliminates reflections, well-formed Alcantara-trimmed sport buckets and a flat-bottom steering wheel with racing-style shifter paddles along with a new digital instrument cluster that incorporates a lap timer and oil pressure readout. So far, VW has not said if it will produce a limited run of XL Sport models for the street.
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