Mercedes-Benz claims to have broken a record for the lowest coefficient of drag for a production vehicle with its upcoming A-Class sedan.
The car was tested and found to have a coefficient of drag (Cd) of just 0.22. According to the manufacturer this represents a new world record for a production car. This exempts very-limited-edition performance models like the Volkswagen XL1, which produces a Cd of only .0186, but of which 250 units were built.
For those not technically inclined or interested, the number is obtained using a calculation formula that measures the capacity of an object to slice through air.
To achieve its impressive Cd score, the A-Class unsurprisingly features very sleek, streamlined contours, but it also benefits from several other design elements that help its cause. For example, sealant was used in a number of places where there are spaces between chassis components, the undercarriage is nearly fully covered in panels, and the front grille features slats that can close at high speed. This last feature, in case you’re taking notes, is an option on the model.
A low coefficient of drag means better aerodynamics, obviously, and better aerodynamics means more efficient fuel consumption, as well as improved stability when on the highway.
The quest for ever-improved aerodynamics is almost as old as the automotive industry itself. Car manufacturers began to conduct serious studies on the matter in the 1930s, and haven’t stopped since.
To place things in context, the Volkswagen Beetle, which had such a glorious career beginning in the post-Second World War period, had a coefficient of drag of 0.46 – which was extraordinary in its time. In the 1950s, the Citroën DS managed 0.31.
The ultimate reference point might be the 0.05 scored by… a drop of water.
Today, many models put up impressive Cd numbers, but some still hover around 0.40, far behind the record-setting new A-Class.