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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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is a new, track-only model.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini

The Lamborghini Essenza SCV12 is a track-only hypercar that is designed to be the epitome of Lamborghini performance. The Italian automaker will construct just 40 of the limited edition models, each of which can trace its lineage back to the Miura Jota and Diablo GTR.

The car was designed by Lamborghini Centro Stile and combines the most powerful V12 naturally aspirated engine ever developed by Lamborghini, with aerodynamics inspired by racing prototypes and new technical solutions.

"Essenza SCV12 represents the purest track driving experience that our brand can offer, an engineering feat that highlights the inextricable link between our cars and the asphalt of the track," said Stefano Domenicali, CEO and Chairman of Automobili Lamborghini. "Lamborghini is a brand constantly looking to the future and searching for new challenges, but we never forget our roots and who we are: Essenza SCV12 is the perfect combination of our unconventional spirit as a super sports car manufacturer and our true passion for motorsport."

Lamborghini Essenza SCV12

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini

The V12 engine can produce 830 horsepower while working in tandem with the car's exhaust pipes, which were designed by Capistro to reduce the back pressure. The engine of the rear-wheel drive car is paired with a new X-trac sequential six-speed gearbox that has bee desired to be a structural element within the chassis.

The car has an especially good power-to-weight ratio of 1.66 kg/hp, which is thanks in large part to the car's new-generation carbon fiber monocoque chassis without internal rollcage.

It has higher downforce levels than a GT3 car - 1,200 kg at 250 km/h. That is in large part due to the central rib, which separates hot airflow from the radiator, and a front splitter and two lateral airflow elements that allow cool air to flow. The aerodynamic package is completed by the large adjustable double-profile rear wing.

Lamborghini has given the model magnesium rims- 19-inch in the front and 20-inch in the back. Brembo disc brakes and calipers give the model proper stopping power.

The Essenza SCV12 is the first GT car developed to adhere to FIA prototype safety rules.

Lamborghini designers were influenced by the look of the F1 single-seater steering wheels to develop the SCV12's wheel.

Purchasing the model gets buyers access to special programs to drive their hypercar on the most prestigious race tracks in the world. This includes storage at the new hangar built in Sant'Agata Bolognese for the Essenza SCV12 club. Each car will have a personalized garage and dedicated services, including webcams to allow customers to monitor their cars 24/7 using an app. The facility also houses the Lamborghini Squadra Corse Drivers Lab by Tecnobody to offer athletic training programs similar to those followed by the official Lamborghini racing drivers.

The track calendar will start in 2021 events at numerous FIA Grade 1 homologated circuits. Assistance will be provided by the Squadra Corse technical staff with the support of Emanuele Pirro, five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Marco Mapelli, Lamborghini Squadra Corse Factory Driver.

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The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a lesson in balance - speed meets comfort, power meets easy drivability.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

When a model wears the AMG badge, it's a signal that it is a driver's car. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is no exception to that rule. But, driving is about more than just having a competent engine. It's in these small details where the model falters.

The looks of the C63 S are rather standard fare for a Mercedes sedan. It's smart, buttoned up, ready to take you where you want to go. It fits in nearly everywhere but doesn't quite stand out.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The profile of the model reveals a strong and confident design.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has installed a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 engine under the hood of the car. It produces 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That's more than plenty. When you get on the throttle, in any of the car's drive settings (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Race) it roars to life (more so if you push the button for the more aggressive exhaust note).

The nine-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts and opting for the full paddle shifter experience is equally as smooth. What isn't smooth is the automatic stop-start functionality. Thankfully the quick push of a button on the center console turns that off ASAP.

Though the car's steering is spot on, its limited slip differential is less limited in its slip than is comforting when pulling out quickly from a stop. Off the line, it's a gem but turning the corner from a stop is another story. One could argue that getting on it in corner isn't what you're going to do on a daily basis if you own the car, but one doesn't simply buy a C63 S to take it easy.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Even when driving in Comfort mode, the driver's information display can showcase the car's power output and camber of the road. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There's some cool features that you won't see on any model outside the Mercedes lineup in the U.S. The high beams turn on in a pattern similar to drawing back a curtain, and reveal a fantastic amount of illumination. A dial on one side of the AMG Performance steering wheel quickly and easily turns to adjust the drive mode while buttons on the other side allow you to easily adjust the suspension and exhaust.

That steering wheel comes made of half carbon fiber (from 10 to two and four to eight) while the remaining sections are covered in Dinamica suede. The suede bits are fine, but when the summer sun heats up that carbon fiber, it feels like a plasma cutter to the hands (and legs if you happen to bump it while wearing shorts).

This isn't aided at all by the air conditioning, which requires the car to be in gear and running (preferably in a forward motion) before it even thinks about dispensing cool air.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The car's seats are equal parts comfortable and sporty.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The C-Class is a compact car. It's interior is spacious for the first row passengers but the second-row seats can get a bit squished if you're tall. The AMG Performance sport seats are comfortable enough for everyday use but also hold you tight enough that should you choose to carve some corners you won't have to worry about wiggling around in the seat.

The car's safety technology works as advertised except that the traffic sign reading function has a hard time telling the difference between 55 mph and 65 mph at night. Active Speed Limit Assist is part of the Driver Assistance Package ($1,700 upgrade) on the model and while the issue shouldn't stop you from getting the package, it's something to be aware of.

The rest of the C63 S is as expected. Handing is engaging, fuel economy isn't fantastic, and upholstery and appointments are equal parts attractive and appropriate for the car's price point.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The back end of the model is rather status quo for the company's model line.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

About that price point. The tester came in a shade over $96,000 – the base MSRP is $75,700. That's a price for someone who really wants that car. They're not in the market to comparison shop and there's nothing wrong with that.

For the price of the C63 S as tested, you can get a fairly nice Porsche 911 or a BMW M2 Competition and a vacation. The biggest advantage the C63 S has over those is a a second set of doors and a usable back row – and that is quite the advantage for many buyers.

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