Volvo hails wind-tunnel progress

Volvo has significantly reduced drag and improved fuel consumption in the new Volvo C30 DRIVe thanks to the company`s total-realism wind tunnel.

It was a cutting-edge facility when it was built in 1986 - and 20 years later, after being completely refurbished, it is once again setting the standard.

Because the underside and wheels account for 50% of a car's total air drag, the tunnel exactly replicates airflow around and underneath the car.

It has four belts that spin all the wheels, a central belt that simulates the road under the moving car, and an 8.15-metre fan that generates wind speeds of up to 155mph.

With the new DRIVe models - CO2 emissions of 115g/km (C30) and 118g/km (S40 and V50) - tests resulted in small but effective changes to the front spoilers, under-floor panels, roof and tailgate/boot lid.

On the C30 DRIVe, co-ordinated refinements to the roof spoiler, rear bumper and under-floor panels have cut overall air drag by more than 10% compared with the current C30 1.6D.

Said company aerodynamics expert Tim Walker: "It is here that the major improvements will be seen. Developments in underside and wheel efficiency are a revolution. Up top, it's more evolution."

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