Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has been winning award after award, and this time, the new title may sound a bit strange. In a report entitled Drag Queens, Car and Driver highlighted five of the sleekest cars on the road, sending them all into a wind tunnel to test their drag coefficients. As it turns out, Tesla’s Model S was the winner, coming out ahead of the other four in terms of aerodynamics.
Tesla has the lowest drag area
The magazine used the wind tunnel to calculate the drag and lift properties of the five vehicles it tested. Car and Driver pitted the Model S against General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s Chevy Volt, Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203)’s Prius, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:NSANY) (TYO:7201)’s Leaf and the Mercedes-Benz CLA250.
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Don Sherman, the author of the report, pointed out a number of reasons Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Model S performed better than the other four cars they tested. According to Tesla’s blog about the report, he noted that the Model S lowers its ride height at highway speeds and that it features a “contoured chin” underneath the grille to keep the air flowing past. In addition, he said the outboard of the front faschia deflects air around the tires and shutters close three of the grille openings until the heat exchanges inside the vehicle need airflow.
He also pointed out that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has carefully placed fences and spoilers to move air away from the front wheelhouses. The Model S also sports a rear diffuser to minimize both drag and lift and an optional carbon fiber spoiler which cuts down on lift without penalizing drag.
Toyota Prius challenges Tesla Model S in slipperiness
Sherman noted that , Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE:TM) (TYO:7203)’s Prius has the same drag area as Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Model S, at 6.2 square feet. However, the Model S edges out the Prius in drag coefficient, coming in at .24 compared to the Prius’ .26. The author also suggested that the difference between the results for these two cars is likely much smaller, as it falls within the margin of error that is “common to wind tunnels.”
Overall, here’s how all five cars stack up against each other in terms of drag coefficients and drag areas (Chart courtesy Car and Driver‘s Drag Queens report):