Most fascinating green car of 2013: Volkswagen XL1

For all the XL1’s otherworldliness – hyper-aerodynamic shape, carbon-fibre architecture, rear-view monitor screens – its neatest trick may be how familiar it feels to drive.

Piloting the 261mpg marvel through Volkswagen’s corporate base of Wolfsburg, Germany, the XL1 behaved more like the Golfs and Polos in my midst than some priceless Sunraycer prototype. And yet the technologies embodied by the XL1 represent the very vanguard of automotive engineering.

Fascinating Cars of 2013

Editor Matthew Phenix and deputy editor Jonathan Schultz revisited the most fascinating cars of the year. Click here for a full list of honorees.

There is the carbon-fibre-reinforced-polymer (CFRP) body, which helps it achieve the lowest coefficient of drag of any car from a major automaker. There are those door-mounted monitors, which relay unambiguous, real-time footage to the cabin. The diesel-electric hybrid system still feels crude, but ringing through the powertrain’s din of ticks, gurgles and whines is another sound, clear as a bell – the sound of progress.

Read more about the Volkswagen XL1 here.

Second Opinion

Think BMW is all about hard-charging sporting cars? With an upright profile, motorbike-skinny tires and a battery-electric powertrain, the i3 challenges the very definition of a BMW. And that is no bad thing. – Matthew Phenix