The World’s Most Efficient Car?
It’s funny hearing the boasts coming from the Frankfurt Motor Show. Whereas in years past the arms race seemed centered on speed and power — fastest time to 60 mph or most muscular top speed — carmakers (unsurprisingly) seem to be shouting from the hilltops about fuel efficiency and miles per gallon.
The latest town crier is VW, with its diesel-powered L1 concept hybrid, and it certainly has the efficiency paperwork: Total weight is kept to a staggeringly light 838 pounds thanks to lightweight components such as a carbon fiber-reinforced body, aluminum brakes and ceramic bearings. And the minuscule tank holds a mere 1.7 gallons of fuel — which, it should be mentioned, will get the car 306 miles farther down the road, according to some reports of its purported 180 mpg capability.
The tiny, aerodynamic L1 — which goes into limited production next year and will have a full run in 2013 — is the result of a Volkswagen research project that began way back in 1998. And, as anyone who’s read Exhaust Notes regularly could predict, we applaud its efforts toward real gains in fuel efficiency and clever engineering. We are, however, a little nostalgic for some old-school, gas-bill-be-damned, pin-you-to-your seat performance numbers.