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.

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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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Two Volkswagen electric vehicles hang out side-by-side in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With the pandemic becoming less of an issue as people get vaccinated and head out into the world, beloved automotive events are starting to come back online. One, the Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance, is taking place right now, and features some of the rarest, coolest, and most expensive vehicles in the country.

This year's event will be preceded by a parade of electric vehicles called Taking Charge, which will feature several electrified models. Volkswagen brought two EVs to the event this year, but there's a surprising twist with one of them. The ID.4 electric crossover will take part in the parade, and the other is a rare electrified bus form over 40 years ago.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter Early EVs had almost no power or range.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen's brand-new ID.4 electric crossover will participate in the parade. By now, most of you have probably heard about the vehicle, VW's first fully electric crossover. It recently took home 2021 World Car of the Year honors, and is on sale now. The ID.4 is cool, but it's the vintage EV that really caught our eye. The 1978 Elekrotransporter is based on a Volkswagen Type 2, and was originally used by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). VW says that it produced a handful of electrified bus and Golf models in the 1960s and 70s to test the feasibility of EV powertrains and charging. The Electric Power Research Institute snapped up ten buses to test with the TVA at the time.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter The EV was powered by 24 lead-acid batteries.Volkswagen

The electrified bus carries 24 lead-acid batteries held in a 1,225-pound pack under its floor. The electric motor is bolted directly to the existing gearbox, which is permanently locked in second gear and sends power to the rear wheels. The early electric powertrain only generated 23 horsepower, which gave the bus a top speed of just 48 mph. It did feature an early version of regenerative braking, a feature that is onboard nearly every EV made today.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter The bus used a combo of electric and existing drivetrain components.Volkswagen

It's easy to draw a line from the old Elektrotransporter to today's VW electric vehicles. The ID.BUZZ concept is the old EV's direct descendent, and will enter production in the EU in 2022. Unlike its grandfather, the ID.BUZZ will produce a combined system output of 225 kW, which equates to around 300 horsepower.

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