At the outset, it is useful to recall the general automotive wisdom, which proclaims that with increasing speed and with a larger frontal area of the car, aerodynamic resistance also increases. You can think of this resistance as an invisible wall that the car’s drivetrain is constantly pulling against. As the speed increases, the car approaches the moment when the force of resistance is equal to the maximum force of the drive. And then further acceleration is no longer possible.
Car designers were already aware of this in the early 1900s, when the first speed records were broken. This trend lasted even into the 1930s, when, for example, a modified sixteen-cylinder Auto Union Type C Stromlinie-Rennwagen reached the legendary speed of 400 km/h, already in 1937! One year even 435 km/h, but it cost the test pilot his life.
However, in the 1930s aerodynamics began to be flirted with more significantly in ordinary cars as well, which started in Czechoslovakia in 1931 with the mass-produced Wikov 35 Kapka. At one time, it was a relatively expensive model with an avant-garde shape, which, however, showed in road tests that thanks to its aerodynamic body, it could surpass the competition at the time.
However, Wikov, otherwise known as the Czech Rolls-Royce, did not achieve significant success and ended up as a car manufacturer. There is only one Kapka and it lives in Olomouc’s Veteran Arena. Objectively, we will also mention the attempts of Pragovka and Škoda to create an aerodynamic vehicle, but these manufacturers were not successful.
Air ride in the Tatra mountains
However, the same cannot be said about the Czech Tatrovka, which introduced streamlined bodywork into series life, thereby burning the pond for everyone around. The surprise came in 1934 at the Prague Motor Show, when the Tatra 77 prototype was presented. And it was literally a revolutionary car at the time.
The successors of the 1970s, namely the Tatra 77A (1935), the famous Tatra 87 (1936), the Tatra 97 (1937) and the Tatra 107 (1946), gradually joined this wave of streamlined bodies, which eventually became the iconic Tatraplan T600 (1947), whose we have taken a picture for you.
It could be said that the Tatrovka was ahead of its time with its streamlined bodies, at least in our country. On the one hand, it was a truly innovative solution that allowed the Nettle cars to achieve higher speeds, acceleration and lower consumption than before, but on the other hand, a problem directly related to speed appeared – tires.
It is not for nothing that the Tatra 87 is said to have killed the highest number of high-ranking Nazi officials in car accidents during the Second World War, while the Allied forces were to take care of the same number of deaths. The car had no problem reaching decent numbers on the tachometer, the problem was adjusting it due to increasing instability.
This ailment accompanied basically all streamer Tatras, including the T600 and T603 (1956), which their owners still know today. That is, if they didn’t put on the right, radial shoes.
In any case, the era of aerodynamic cars in Czechoslovakia ended with the arrival of the Tatra T613 (1970), where more emphasis was placed on the comfort of the rear passengers (papalášas at that time), therefore the all-important sloping rear had to go aside. Moreover, the symbol of the communist era was rather angular cars.
So, when you look at aerodynamic Tatra boats, you think about their sophisticated stern and relatively dull bow, however, there is a reason, if not a secret. From the point of view of car aerodynamics, it is not so important how the air enters the bodywork (front), but how it leaves it (rear).
Not only good pigeons return
In the history of modern motoring, aerodynamics began to gain high importance again. Manufacturers no longer had problems with engine performance, but emissions directly proportional to car consumption began to come to the fore. Thanks to this, sport-utility vehicles also began to receive round shapes, which in some ways replaced the old, angular and rough off-roads.
So, until recently consumption and toxicity were the main drivers of aerodynamics (in most cases), which was further supported by senseless fleet emissions, which, among other things, make today’s cars more expensive. Another turning point was the advent of electromobility associated with the overall reduction of produced emissions over the entire production and life cycle of vehicles.
Aerodynamics also go hand in hand with efficiency, and it has a very strong say in electric cars. In other words, the easier an electric car can penetrate air resistance, the less energy it will consume, and therefore it will travel further.
Traditional rounded and sloping shapes are tried and tested and functional, which South Korean Hyundai showed to the world in terms of electrified cars, for example, with its debut model Ioniq (HEV, PHEV, BEV). Especially in the all-electric variant, it was an electric car with a unique design, but a highly economical consumption.
With its battery with a usable capacity of 28 kWh, it was rated for a consumption of 11.5 kWh per hundred and a range of 280 km, which in reality a car with an experienced driver with a very light foot could achieve. After the facelift, the model received a more powerful electric motor and a larger battery, but it did not reach the second generation. A direct successor arrived instead. And not just any.
How are aerodynamics rated?
Aerodynamic resistance is indicated by the drag coefficient Cx, which basically expresses how aerodynamically clean the car is. The air flow around the bodywork (and the floor) affects not only its shape, but also the surface and various structural parts (spoilers, deflectors, etc.). Thus, the smaller the Cx number, the more aerodynamic the vehicle is.
If we apply it to the vehicles photographed, the value for the Tatra T600 is 0.32, while the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is at a value of 0.21! In general, it can be said that current modern cars have a Cx of around 0.30.
Korean Tesla 911
The Ioniq 6 model, outlined first by the all-electric concept Prophecy (prophecy), which we at work called “Tesla 911” due to its similarity to Porsche, was presented in full glory in a highly aerodynamic body, with an 800-volt electrical architecture for super-fast charging and a battery with a usable capacity of either 53 kWh, or 77.4 kWh.
In addition to the electric vehicle platform, the car offers rear-wheel drive or straight 4×4, which also affects the range. For a rear wheel with a larger battery, we are talking about 614 km per charge combined according to WLTP, while for a quad bike it is a value of 583 km. And where is the power of aerodynamics? We’ll show you on the sister Ioniq 5.
The five-seater Ioniq is such a crossover (a wide hatchback with SUV elements) that shares most of the technology with the six-seater. Its range values are “only” 507 km per charge for a rear-wheel drive and 481 km for a four-wheel drive against a six with a comparable drive.
Some might argue that the Ioniq 6 has a base inch of smaller wheels and is lighter than the Ioniq 5, which we agree with. In a second breath, however, we add that the difference between comparable designs is around 30 kg, which will not make a difference in the combined range of 107 km and 102 km.
Aerodynamics has its significant influence here, while the Ioniq 6 goes against it with its specific shapes. For that reason, the car will offer a solid range without needing a (relatively) huge battery.
Thanks to the interplay of these factors, the Ioniq 6 can be said with a clear conscience to be one of the best current electric cars, whose base prices range from CZK 1,159,990 to CZK 1,649,990. And when we look at the two models standing side by side, we have to say that the aerodynamic coat really suits them, even if one car has it to go faster and the other to go further.