Mercedes-Benz suffered a similar problem with its first-generation A-Class – in addition to famously failing the Swedish swerve ‘moose test’ – and fellow Germans Audi also faced cross wind stability issues with the original TT coupe, forcing the standard fitment of a rear boot spoiler, which was initially only planned as an extra-cost option.
Audi’s stability problems with the early TT seemed ironic at the time as only a few years earlier the Volkswagen Group’s premium marque had built up a strong reputation for class-leading aerodynamics, with models such as the slippery third-generation 100 executive saloon of 1983. This svelte Audi claimed an ultra-low sub-30 Cd drag coefficient, with its pioneering flush glazed door glass, to improve air flow and fuel efficiency. This 1983 Audi 100 took much of its inspiration from the same Company’s revolutionary NSU Ro80 of 1967, which placed efficient aerodynamics high on its list of its many other advanced features.
Bizarrely aerodynamics seems to be a much lower priority to the motor industry these days. Visionary engineers such as Paul Jaray, Hans Edwina and Flaminio Bertoni realised the advantages of aerodynamic efficiencies in the 1930s, with advanced teardrop-shaped cars like the Tatra T77 and T87, and Bertoni’s Citroen Traction Avant 1934, followed by his game-changing DS of 1955.
Post-war, the DKW F9, Saab 93, Tucker 48, and a host of other pioneering models, joined the DS in successfully explored the advantages of a low drag body shape. By the early 1960s, an aerodynamic look was de rigeur to help sell exotic-looking sleek sports cars, such as the Jaguar E-type and Ferrari 250 GTO, even if their drag co-efficiency was actually nothing to write home about.