If the development of the Bugatti Veyron represented the greatest gift the Volkswagen Group could have given from its deep R&D pockets to performance enthusiasts, surely the XL1 does the same for tree-huggers. It represents no less significant an investment on VW's part, and no less significant and advancement in terms of environmental credentials. But that doesn't mean that the XL1 won't have what to offer those who care more about burning natural resources than preserving them.
Back in September we reported on a rumor that Volkswagen was planning to turn the hyper-miling XL1 into a hyper-strung performance model. And now those rumors seem to be coming to fruition. Speaking with Autocar at the launch of the new e-Golf, Volkswagen's R&D chief Hans-Jakob Neusser revealed that the purported performance-oriented version of XL1 is now well underway, with sources expecting it to be unveiled at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show before it goes into limited production.
So what are we looking at, exactly? As previously reported, VW is planning to replace the XL1's diesel-electric hybrid powertrain with the 1.2-liter v-twin from the Ducati 1199 Panigale, raising output from 68 horsepower in the XL1 to 187, but dropping torque slightly from 103 pound-feet to 91. Considering the XL1's feather-like curb weight, which will only further drop with the removal of the battery packs, the horsepower should be the more important element here.
As for name, while previous reports dubbed it the XL Sport, Autocar says the final version will more likely be called the XLR. If that name rings a bell, it's because it once belonged to a Cadillac roadster that also benefited from some inter-brand collaboration within one of the world's largest automakers. Whether VW and GM have any conflict over the name or not remains to be seen, but one way or another we hope for an even higher level of performance in the new XLR than from the old.