Enzo Ferrari once said, “Aerodynamics is for people who can’t build engines.” Even though we respect his legacy and achievements, we must say that he was completely wrong on this one. Aerodynamics has always been an essential aspect of any car design. Of course, back in Enzo’s days when the average top speed of cars was very low, it did not play a significant role, but in modern times, the drag coefficient is crucial in development. However, aerodynamics is not just an attempt to make cars look streamlined, sleek, and low; it is far more than that. Making cars more fuel-efficient, faster, and stable at high speeds is a fine art.
Even so, there are still some cars that failed miserably and have the aerodynamics of a brick. Our list may be a little surprising with the number of cars you never realized had the drag coefficient of a refrigerator!
Mercedes G-Class – 0.54 cd
Even though the brand new 2020 G-Class is a thoroughly upgraded, modernized, and redesigned model, it still looks like a shipping container on four wheels. A very expensive container, we might add. We are sure that the Mercedes engineers tried their best to iron out its terrible drag coefficient. Even so, they managed to get 0.54, which is ridiculous, especially knowing that such a high figure will directly affect an already problematically high fuel consumption. If the Mercedes designers managed to get a better CD, it would surely change the G-Class’s iconic shape.
Lotus 7 – 0.65 cd
The legendary Lotus 7 not only launched Colin Chapman’s career but also defined the essence of a sports car. Light, nimble, quick, and affordable it was and still is the blueprint for a pure driver’s car. However, it is also one of the least slippery shapes in the car industry. With a 0.65 CD, it is less aerodynamic than a truck or van! It is mind-boggling how such a small and low roadster can create so much drag. But when you analyze the design, it all starts to make sense. A wide grill opening, short rear end, big fenders (wings), exposed headlights, no side glass… all add up to this ridiculous coefficient.
Hummer H2 – 0.57 cd
Nobody really expected that the Hummer H2 was even slightly aerodynamic, and we are happy to say that this sizeable American shoebox on wheels does not disappoint. It only manages a 0.57 cd, which puts it squarely amongst the bulldozers, big trucks, and other heavy-duty machinery. If you think that we are exaggerating, just look at the numbers. The 2002 to 2009 Hummer H2 has a 6.2-litre petrol V8 with 392 hp, a curb weight of 6,614 pounds (2.9 tons), and a fuel economy of 9 miles per gallon. In WWII, some tanks were even lighter, more fuel-efficient, and more aerodynamic.
Dodge Viper RT/10 – 0.45 cd
At first, we thought that this was a mistake. How can a car that looks like a spear flying through the air have a drag coefficient of a delivery van? But it is true; the legendary Dodge Viper RT/10 manages just 0.45 cd, which is not very sporty. We guess Chrysler’s engineers spent more time and money developing its magnificent V10 engine than perfecting the shape in the wind tunnel. However, regardless of the poor drag coefficient, we are still smitten by the design, over-the-top image, and story behind this beast, the aerodynamics are irrelevant to us.
Jeep Wrangler JL – 0.45 cd
If somebody told you that a Viper and Wrangler have the same drag coefficient, you would not believe them. One is a proper sports car, and the other is a boxy off-road. Numbers do not lie. However, in this case, we must give Jeep designers credit for keeping the number down since the Wrangler’s basic shape is the same as Rubik’s cube. The latest JL generation, introduced in late 2017, has a drag coefficient of 0.45 cd, which is better than the competition. This was achieved by smoothing the edges, windshield angles, bumper angles, grille, headlights, and side mirrors.
Land Rover Defender – 0.59 cd
No story about boxy cars with terrible drag coefficients would be complete without the legendary Land Rover Defender and its 0.59 cd. Back in the day when the classic Defender was designed, wind tunnels were reserved only for aeroplanes. Rover’s engineers knew that Defender would rarely go over 60 mph, so they did not bother even thinking about drag coefficients. Even the numerous redesigns over the years did not help improve it. But Defender fans can finally be proud since the brand new 2020 model has a drag coefficient of just 0.38 cd, which is not great by today’s standards but more than acceptable for an SUV.
Jaguar E Type – 0.44 cd
The Jaguar E-Type is one of the greatest sports cars ever made, and it caused a sensation with its design and performance when it was introduced in 1961. Designed by a chap called Malcolm Sayer, an aircraft engineer, and automotive aerodynamicist, the E Type looked like a bullet with its long hood, low roofline, and streamlined silhouette. Even today, it is still a magnificently beautiful car that looks fast, even standing still. It just goes to show how far the industry has advanced. If somebody built a sports car with 0.44 cd today, they would be out the door by lunchtime.
Lamborghini Countach – 0.42 cd
For most kids growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, the word Countach was synonymous with speed and performance. The iconic, wedge-shaped supercar was the symbol of ’80s pop culture and is still one of the most recognizable Lamborghinis ever made. But what people tend to forget is that the Countach was conceived in the ’70s and that its performance, power output, and aerodynamics were not up to people’s expectations. In our minds, this is still an all-conquering supercar that is faster than anything else on the road. In reality, it has the 0 to 60 mph time of ordinary BMW 5-Series with a 3-litre diesel engine and a pretty disappointing drag coefficient of just 0.42 cd. Maybe it is better never to meet your heroes!