Volkswagen sprang something of a surprise on the eve of the Paris motor show at its annual Group Night, revealing a lean and mean sports coupe concept with ample production potential, developed with help from its famed motorcycle arm Ducati.
The wing-doored Volkswagen XL2 Sport, a performance derivation of the groundbreaking XL1 plug-in diesel hyper-miler, is pitched as a “driving machine unlike any other”. It pairs a modified, ultra high-revving Ducati V-Twin engine with a seven-speed DSG and lightweight sporting body-shell.
See our story on the track-only XL Sport from September 2013 here.
Operating at the rear of the XL2 Sport is a modified V2 engine from the new, limited-edition Ducati 1199 Superleggera – the world's most powerful two-cylinder motorcycle engine, with vents in the rear fenders there to cool it down.
The 147kW/134Nm unit revs to a stratospheric 11,000rpm, and can take the extremely aerodynamic XL2 Sport from 0-100km/h in 5.7 seconds on the way to a 270km/h top speed. In fact, the 890kg XL2 has the lowest drag coefficient of any road-going sports car, at 0.258.
Weight is kept at bay through the use of carbon-fibre reinforced polymers. The chassis incorporates a high-strength steel space frame, plus a double wishbone front axle/double wishbone rear axle with the dampers connected above in a pushrod configuration.
High-speed tyres sized 205/40 R18 (front) and 265/35 R18 (rear) are wrapped around forged magnesium wheels, which offer a total weight reduction of 23.9 kg compared with aluminium wheels. The XL2 Sport is decelerated by ceramic discs.
The XL2 Sport showcased in Paris is 4291 mm long (XL1: 3888 mm), 1847 mm wide (XL1: 1664 mm) and 1152 mm high (XL1: 1153 mm). The wheelbase has also been increased to 2424 mm (XL1: 2224 mm).
Whereas the XL1 is at its widest at the front and tapers towards the rear, the XL Sport is just as wide at the back as at the front. From above, the shape is that of a classic racing car, Volkswagen says, with the doors retracted like a waist.
More importantly, the odds of it entering series production in very limited numbers seem better than even. The XL1 was green-lit for a run of 250 units, while the Ducati Superleggera is to be limited to a run of 500.
Speaking at the Group Night with CarAdvice, Volkswagen AG’s global communications chief Stephan Gruhsem said cars such as the XL1 and XL2 were technological pillars for the brand, and a limited production run for the latter had merit.
“For this one, the instinct is it’s a logical consequence from the normal XL1, it’s our technological tower, which gives the lead for the other cars. Our engineers are learning very much from it,” he said.
“If the response [for the XL2 to enter limited production] is as good as the normal XL1, our response is not difficult,” he said. However, any expansion beyond the XL2 was not on the radar, Gruhsem insisted.
“Not yet, not yet.”
European reports from nearly two months ago suggested a four-seat XL1 derivative was in the works.
Also speaking with us at the Group Night was former Volkswagen technical chief, and now Audi AG board member for technical development, Ulrich Hackenberg, who said the XL2 was long in the planning.
“The XL1 is one of my babies… looking to the shape of the body, I always had in mind to make something more, and to make a supersport version always was in mind,” he said.