The Volkswagen Twin-Up has been revealed at the Tokyo motor show.

The car runs a modified version of the plug-in diesel-electric hybrid driveline used in the hi-tech XL1 for spectacular claimed combined consumption of 257mpg along with a zero-emission electric range of 31 miles.  

The Twin-Up (a name alluding to the new car’s twin drive sources) was revealed by head of Volkswagen’s R&D operations, Hans-Jakob Neusser.

A more production-orientated version of the Twin-Up is planned to make its public debut alongside the recently unveiled all-electric e-Up at the Tokyo motor show.

The new four seater is among a range of alternative drive models under development at the German car maker, which has been customarily slow to bring both hybrid and electric power versions of its existing models to showrooms.

Described by Neusser as an engineering prototype with future production potential, the Twin-Up uses elements of the futuristically styled XL1’s hybrid system, although various components have been modified to offset the compact hatchback’s added weight.

Tipping the scales at 410kg above the XL1 at 1205kg, the Twin-Up receives an upgraded electric motor, a larger battery with an additional two modules raising its capacity to 8.6kWh and a diesel fuel tank boasting an additional 23 litres of capacity at 33 litres.

Power hails from the same turbocharged 800cc two-cylinder common rail diesel engine used in the XL1. Mounted transversely in the engine bay, it produces 47bhp and 88lb ft of torque. The combustion engine is supported by an electric motor developing a similar 47bhp – 20bhp more than the unit used in the XL1 – and 103lb of torque.

Altogether, the Twin-Up boasts a combined system output of 74bhp and 158lb ft. Drive is channeled through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to the front wheels.

While still in the early stages of development, Volkswagen claims the Twin-Up accelerates from 0-to-37mph in 8.8sec, 0-62mph in a 15.7sec and reaches a top speed limited to 87mph in hybrid mode.

With claimed combined consumption of 257mpg on the European test procedure, the diesel-electric powered Up boasts average CO2 emissions of just 27g/km. An e-mode function also allows the driver to select pure electric propulsion for distances up to 31 miles and speeds up to 78mph.

Read more 2013 Tokyo motor show news.