Volkswagen XL1 (Volkswagen)
Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
Volkswagen is going to make a futuristic car that actually looks futuristic.
And the looks of the XL1 will match the hype as the world's most fuel-efficient production vehicle.
How efficient? Try 261 miles per gallon by the European standard, which is a little more optimistic than what is used in the U.S.
It has been shown before as a concept, but Volkswagen surprised all Thursday by announcing that it will go into production.
It will likely be one of the stars of next month's Geneva Motor Show, but it's yet to be seen whether it will be sold in the U.S.
True to being futuristic, it's a two-seat, plug-in hybrid that can run 32 miles on electricity alone before its diesel engine kicks in. But even with that engine, it's hyper-efficient: VW boasts that its needs only 8.3 horsepower to cruise at 62 miles an hour.
Makes sense given that the engine has only two cylinders and puts out only 47 horsepower. The electric motor is good for another 27 horsepower.
"The 261-mpg fuel consumption figure is a record that has not been achieved by any other vehicle to date, showing that Volkswagen is redefining what is technically feasible in the automotive industry," the automaker says. XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds, according to VW.
Beyond its powerplant, VW sticks to the basics when it comes to milking every last bit of energy out of a drop of gas. The car is astoundingly light, only 1,753 pounds. It's really slippery going through the air.