Engineering

The ARVW is the most aerodynamic vehicle Volkswagen ever built

Volkswagen engineers created the unique car to test the limits of aerodynamics.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Aerodynamics play a big role in vehicle engineering - at least as much as the engine itself. The slicker a vehicle is, the larger the possibility for excellent fuel economy is.

Over the last century, automakers have experimented with a variety of designs and feature to demonstrate the relationship between drag and power. One such design, the 1980 Aerodynamic Research Volkswagen (ARVW) has the honor of being the most aerodynamic vehicle VW ever built.

1980 Aerodynamic Research Volkswagen The design of the model was launched as a reaction fo the oil crisis of the 1970s.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In the 1970s, a number of developed nations including the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and the U.K. were affected by inflated prices and lack of supply of oil. Drivers truly began, for the first time in modern history, considering how many miles per gallon their vehicles got and how that impacted their household budget.

The ARVW was designed to push the limits of aerodynamics and light weighting. Together, it was proposed that the two elements could generate high speed from a traditional amount of power.

VW engineers built the ARVW to be just 33 inches tall and 43.3 inches wide. It was shaped for aerodynamic smoothness. Volkswagen says that the first challenge was squeezing a driver, powertrain, and four wheels into a body that would have the smallest profile possible.

The second challenge was maximizing those aerodynamics and equipment with stability.

1980 Aerodynamic Research Volkswagen The model eventually reached 225 mph on the track.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Engineers made a fiberglass and carbon body to cover an aluminum frame. Power came from a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-six engine that produced 177 horsepower, which set behind the driver in the rear-wheel drive car. An onboard water tank injected water into the turbochargers intake and a cooling vent was positioned at the car's nose.

The model's coefficient of drag was rated at 0.15, making it sleeker than any production vehicle VW ever made.

Following the build, a team of Volkswagen engineers and an open-wheel racing driver went to the Nardo test track in Italy to put the car to the test. Within the first hour of testing, the car reached 221 mph. By the end of the day, that number was up to 225. The team took home two world speed records in the process.

Trending News

 
 

Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

Trending News

 
 

The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

Trending News