Gordon Murray, sports car innovator par excellence, recently stated that the next frontier for automotive design lies in lightweight aerodynamic machines, and not outright horsepower. It seems that the Volkswagen Group, like Lotus, has taken this stream of thought seriously and here’s the result for all to behold, the all-new VW XL Sport.
With an engine from a Ducati superbike.
VW boss Ferdinand Piëch had already stated his intentions to replace the 800cc diesel hybrid from the original XL1 with a more efficient mill sometime back, but we never thought the outcome would be this extreme. With the acquisition of Ducati, VW now has the Italian motorcycle marque’s parts bin to raid from, and they went for the latest and the best, the 200PS V-twin Ducati 1199 Superleggera.
Obviously, the engine now doesn’t rev to the same stratospheric 11,000 rpm as the bike, but it is still good for the 0-100kmph under 5 seconds. That’s not supercar fast but consider the top speed too, 270 kmph.
All thanks to the most aerodynamically tuned chassis the world has ever seen, with a drag coefficient of 0.258, and frontal area of just 1.7m2. VW has redesigned the carbon-monocoqued chassis of the original XL1 slightly to better feed air to the Ducati engine, and also to make it appear more aggressive to go with the newfound performance. Power is transmitted to the forged magnesium wheels at the rear through a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.
To be fair, plonking a motorcycle engine onto a four-wheeler isn’t exactly a new thing. Ariel Motors famously clubbed two Suzuki Hayabusa engines together to form the engine for the Atom V8, and so did a lot of niche track day manufacturers. But this is the first time that we have seen a screaming superbike engine being tuned to compete with the world’s most efficient machines, never mind the fact that the XL Sport will most definitely be less efficient than its predecessor.
VW engineering chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser states that the XL Sport is designed so that every last one of its components is exactly as strong as it needs to be, but not a gram more. We believe him.