VW XL Sport unveiled at Paris motor show 2014 | CAR Magazine

VW XL Sport unveiled at Paris motor show 2014

Published: 01 October 2014 Updated: 26 January 2015

The VW XL Sport is one of the big surprises at the Paris motor show 2014: it’s a tiny sports car mating Ducati power with Volkswagen engineering.

The baby coupe takes the XL1 architecture and ditches the electric motor for a 197bhp Ducati superbike engine, mounted amidships in a heavily modified XL1 body.

The VW group bought Ducati a couple of years ago; now we’re beginning to understand why.

VW XL Sport: the lowdown

This is a radical VW alright. The XL1’s electric powertrain is dumped for the twin-cylinder from a Ducati 1199 Superleggera, featuring the brand’s trademark desmodromic valve control. In a nutshell, both inlet and exhaust valves are operated by a cam, rather than squeezed by a spring.

It generates a heady 197bhp near the high 11,000rpm redline; it’s all about power, peak torque stands at a rather weedier-sounding 99lb ft.

Drive is sent through a VW twin-clutch DSG gearbox with seven ratios.

Sounds great! A VW superbike on four wheels!

The VW XL Sport is a little heavier than the electric XL1, weight rising to 890kg although a rather exotic-sounding construction list leaning towards the expensive end of the period table keeps things low. That carbonfibre build explains why 0-62mph takes a buzzing, rabid 5.7sec, says Volkswagen.

The redesign makes it a touch less aerodynamic, too, the drag coefficiency rising to a still-eel-slippery 0.26, where most sports cars are over 0.3. The wheels are now 18-inchers, sporting 205/40 rubber up front and 265/35 at the rear.

That bodywork is made from lightweight carbonfibre. Will they build it? No word yet, but the EV version went on low-volume sale and indications are that Wolfsburg will do the same again.

The designer speaks

Peter Wouda, the chief designer of the project who’s spent much of his career at Skoda, told CAR that the brief was to keep 50-60% of the XL1. ‘There is a lot shared such as the windscreen, the rear lights – but the hood [bonnet], front fenders, rear fenders are all new for the Sport.

‘This is a very functional car. Those air curtains at the front channel air around the car. We had a lot of interest from Ferdinand Piech – he was always inspiring us with this car.’ 

Group chief Martin Winterkorn made a robust defence of Europe’s car industry at the Paris motor show, in which he claimed that every 1g/km of CO2 Brussels forced his company to cut from the fleet average cost Volkswagen €100 million (£78m) in extra cost.

With pricey showpieces like the XL Sport, you can see why.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words