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 VolkswagenThe 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 VolkswagenThe 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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The new Z starts at under $40,000.

Nissan

The new Nissan Z is finally here, and the 400-horsepower sports car is hitting the market with a reasonable price. The car starts at just $39,990 before a $1,025 destination charge. That's significantly cheaper than the least expensive Toyota Supra for a car with impressive specs and great style.

2023 Nissan ZThe Z gets a 400-horsepower V6 from Infiniti.Nissan

The 2023 Z comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 400 horsepower. It's paired with either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. That's the enthusiast's dream setup, and it's one of few cars available in the U.S. with a manual gearbox. The body is stiffer and features more reinforcements from prior cars, and the steering system now features electric assistance instead of hydraulics. 18-inch wheels are standard and 19-inchers are available.

When it announced the car, Nissan made a point to talk about its retro-inspired styling and classic proportions. The coupe features a sweeping roofline, a distinct front fascia, and is unmistakeably a Z car, through and through. Inside, the car features a three anlog gauges for a classic look, 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 9-inch touchscreen display. The cabin looks upscale and tech-forward, with deep bucket seats.

2023 Nissan ZThe 2023 Z lands this summer. Nissan

Nissan says the new Z will go on sale in summer 2022. Pricing starts at $39,990 for the base Sport trim, $49,990 for the mid-range Performance trim, and $52,990 for the limited-edition range-topping Proto Spec trim.

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VW purchased the rights to the iconic Scout name and plans to make new EVs under the brand.

Volkswagen

Automakers bring back names and brands from the past all the time, but it's not every day that a major company purchases a brand name specifically for the purpose of reviving it. That's exactly what Volkswagen just did with Scout, the name of an ultra-popular off-road SUV that was built by International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the types of vehicles we'll see from the brand, we currently only have the renders to go on. The pickup truck and SUV both feature throwback styling that is reminiscent of the original Scout shapes. Beefy off-road tires and lifted suspension are the only other clues available in the drawings.

Volkswagen has its own EVs, and its other brands like Audi and Porsche have made significant progress with electric vehicles as well. That said, VW doesn't really have a solid off-road option from any of its brands at the moment, so the Scout purchase opens doors for the automaker in that arena.

The announcement sounds exciting, but we've still got plenty of time to wait before there's a Scout-branded EV on the roads. Volkswagen said the plan is to release vehicles by 2026, but it won't be sitting idle between now and then. The VW ID.4 is still very fresh and the automaker says it will launch a total of 25 new EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

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