If you’re thinking of putting a rear wing on your car, you’re adding what’s known as downforce to it.
However, sometimes you don’t actually need that downforce, or indeed need more, which is where active aerodynamics comes into play.
Normally the preserve of high performance sports cars, active aerodynamics have trickled down into more approachable cars from mainstream automakers, giving the rest of us a chance to experience their benefits.
Normally electronically activated by the car’s brain, active aerodynamics involve active spoilers, vents and wings to keep the car pinned to the road during high-speed driving.
By varying the car’s aerodynamic aids, the car can strike a balance between efficiency and roadholding ability.
Here are some modern active aerodynamic aids you can find on cars today:
The Pagani Huayra hypercar was one of the first to employ discrete active wings on its bodywork, making it look more like an aircraft than a sports car.
Two sets of wins front and back could be raised or lowered independently of each other to provide the car with cornering downforce.
The system takes information like yaw rate, steering angle and throttle position from the car’s ABS and ECU and positions the flaps accordingly.
Interestingly, the system can prevent excess body roll in the corners by raising the inside flaps to keep the car from lifting.
Meanwhile, the Lamborghini Avendator SVJ has electronically actuated motors which open or close active flaps in the front splitter and on the engine bonnet to steer the airflow, front and rear.
Thanks to active aero, the Aventador SVJ has a 40 percent increase in aerodynamic downforce when compared to the SV.
Unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, the 1177hp Zenvo TSR-S has perhaps the craziest aerodynamic add-on ever.
Look closely at that rear wing. It has two actuators on either side, and those raise and lower the whole wing as the car corners, as you can see from this video:
Zenvo’s crazy “Centripetal Wing”, according to the company, can act as both air brake and cornering stabiliser.
The idea is that when the TSR-S turns into a corner, the wing will rise on that corresponding side (the wing’s left side will rise when the car turns left, right side rises when turning right), generating an “inward force” together with conventional downforce.
“Conventional movable wing and flap designs, focused on inboard tyre load, function by a penalty concept where downforce is increased on the inboard section of the cornering car but not on the outboard section,” Dutch automaker Zenvo highlights on the TSR-S’s webpage.
“The TSR-S Centripetal Wing concept is able to maintain the high downforce and generate a large inwards directed force.”
Conventional road cars from BMW now also offer active aero in the form of an active front grille.
The grille is closed unless the car requires cooling, which maximises aerodynamic efficiency.