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It is powered by a 2 cylinder 800cc diesel engine ( ½ of a 1.6 TDi unit ) producing 50 bhp in conjunction with a 27bhp electric motor that can work independently or in parallel with the powerplant. It can do about 25 miles on battery power alone.
The car uses a DC charging system that is incompatible with the public network, which means that the charger is carried in the boot. He also has to carry a 12v charger and an extra battery for the 12v battery that is used for the diesel engine as it is tiny and the alternator has a very low output. It is very easy to flatten the battery and be stranded as the 12v system and the high voltage hybrid system are not linked for starting the car.
The fuel tank capacity is 2 gallons which might seem small at first but when you consider the fuel economy it can achieve the car has a range that is close to most conventional cars.
On the subject of fuel economy, it has a claimed combined rating of 0.9 l per 100km ( 310mpg in old money ), although Jim reckons that the best he’s achieved with it is ‘only’ 184mpg!
Power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a 7 speed DSG transmission. There are 2 clutches within the gearbox with another one between the engine and motor.
One of the main reasons it can hit such high fuel economy figures is the super slippery shape of the 2 seater monocoque body. I remember when the Audi 100 was launched in the early 80s that they were very proud of the drag coefficient (how easily it cut through the air ) of the car as it was the first production car to reach a value of 0.3. This car absolutely blows that figure out of the water by achieving a value of 0.186.
All of this equates to a car that can achieve travel at 125mph but has been limited to 100mph. It can launch from 0 to 60 in 12.7 seconds which is a remarkable achievement for this type of vehicle.
Jim’s car had spent it’s life in a Frankfurt VW dealer’s showroom since new and would have to undergo the German equivalent ( Hauptuntersuchung (HU) ) of the NCT \ MOT on it’s 4th birthday, even though it wasn’t being driven on the road. The dealer decided to put it up for sale and Jim didn’t hesitate to pick it up as they rarely appear on the market. He put it through the HU in Germany before embarking on a 6000 km road trip around Europe during the summer.
First stop was Warsaw where a friend who lectures in the university there wanted to feature it in some lectures. The trip to Warsaw proved very eventful as he was detained by police for a couple of hours while the car was taken away for a technical inspection. He got the feeling that they were more interested in the car than in him.
Once he got back to NI the reality of owning this piece of automotive exotica started to sink in. The car has to return to VW UK Technical Centre in Milton Keynes for any work, even a basic oil change will cost £1400. VW recommend that the car should not be taken on a ferry without their permission and would come and collect the car for the bargain price of £4,000 (return). In order to be registered in the UK a number of changes need to be made to comply with the DVLA rules. The headlights need to be changed at a cost of £3000 each and a new speedo will cost £2700. It’s now due an oil change and along with this work, it would cost £16,000 to service it and put it on the road with UK plates.