Volkswagen XL Sport Unveiled @ The Paris Motor Show


Published on October 7th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Volkswagen XL Sport Unveiled @ The Paris Motor Show


One of the best ways to make a very fast car is to start with a small vehicle that’s extremely light and strong, and add a more powerful engine. That is the genesis of the Volkswagen XL Sport unveiled last week at the Paris Motor Show. If the small, lightweight vehicle happens to be the ultra-economical Volkswagen XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid, with a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic bodyshell, just think what adding more power could do. Underneath this lovely looking thing is the exotic Karmann built carbon-fibre body tub from the XL1, but this car is 47cm longer, 18cm wider and has 20cm added to the wheelbase. So there’s more of it for a start.


There’s also a different and stronger suspension system with wishbones all round instead of the front wishbones and rear semi-trailing arms of the XL1. Springing is via pull rods on the front and pushrods on the rear. On the weight saving side, they’ve dispensed with the XL1’s two-cylinder diesel-based plug-in hybrid system. The 197bhp twin-cylinder Ducati Panigale engine provides more than enough grunt to get the XL-S to its top speed of 168mph.


It’s that engine’s Desmodronic valve drive which gives a propensity to rev, that’s provided some technical problems and more weight. The engine drives a step down transmission into the seven-speed twin-clutch DSG gearbox driving the rear wheels.


The additional transmission reduces revs and increases torque from 99lb ft to 184lb ft, which is slightly more than the peak capacity of the XL1’s specially made magnesium-bodied transmission, so they’ve had to revert to a more conventional aluminium case instead. But while the XL1 echoes the aerodynamic teardrop shape, with a narrower back end than front, the XL Sport is as wide at the rear as it is up front. That’s to accommodate very wide tires, of course, part of an entirely re-engineered chassis and suspension system optimized for high performance rather than fuel efficiency.


The base XL body, with its wider back end, received an enormous amount of aerodynamic work to ensure proper cooling and enough downforce that it wouldn’t turn into a wing and lift off at the highest speeds. Frontal air vanes, vents in the wheel arches, ducts in the hood to let air escape, and a Lamborghini-derived extending rear spoiler are all new to the XL.


Presently the XL Sport is just a concept car–but, remember, that’s how the Volkswagen XL1 began too.

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