PARIS -- When Volkswagenthe world took notice. It was safe, easy to drive and achieved a remarkable 261 mpg thanks to a tiny diesel motor, a plug-in hybrid system, lightweight carbon construction and a body that slipped through the air. Despite those practicalities it remained a remarkably fun car to drive, a fact that perhaps inspired Volkswagen to create this one-off concept, the XL Sport.
Out goes the plug-in hybrid powertrain, replaced by a motor from a somewhat unlikely source: the 1,199cc V-twin motor used in the Ducati 1199 Superlegerra. Yes, a motorcycle engine, a donation likely facilitated by Ducati and Volkswagen now being corporate cousins after the Italian firm's 2012 acquisition by the German marque.
That gives the car 197 horsepower, a huge boost from the original car's 48, and enough to bring it from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. No, not exactly supercar territory, but a weight of just 1,962 pounds (500 less than a Lotus Elise, and a mere 890 kg) and fully revised pushrod suspension and wider magnesium wheels means this thing should handle like a champ.
Other sporty upgrades include sports seats with red stitching and a huge selection of air intakes and fins, plus some louvers that swing open when the engine needs a little extra cooling.
Like so many of the lovely cars here in Paris the XL Sport is just a concept, but if this is what the future of supercars looks like, we could certainly do worse.