2014 Volkswagen XL1 (Euro spec) - First Drive, Wolfsburg, June 2013
It's an idea we had already half-expected, but it's still welcome to see in reality.
The engine is the primary difference from the XL1, a lightweight, low-slung, streamliner designed to maximize fuel economy. Ducati's Panigale V-twin engine is the one tipped for the duty, rated at 187 horsepower and 91 pound-feet of torque.
To get the most out of the Panigale twin, you'll have to rev it--power peaks at 10,750 rpm, and torque peaks at 9,000 rpm.
But given the XL Sport's super-light 1,752-pound weight, revving it will be, quite simply, fun.
By way of comparison, the no-longer-in-production U.S.-market Lotus Elise's roughly 1,980-pound curb weight was backed by a 189-horsepower four-cylinder engine. While it is considerably torquier than the Ducati bike engine, the XL Sport's lighter weight and near-identical peak power rating should tranlsate to surprisingly brisk performance--as long as the chassis can deliver the requisite handling.
Thus far, the car is mainly intended for use in motorsports of some sort--perhaps a one-make series--but there is a possibility for a limited production run, not unlike the XL1 it's based on. Whatever the plans for the XL Sport, we like Volkswagen's direction.