The most aerodynamic new cars on sale

Cut cleanly through the air – and save fuel – with one of these super-slippery new cars. We’ve ranked them by drag coefficient

  • Born slippy – the most aerodynamic cars

    Born slippy – the most aerodynamic cars

    © Mercedes-Benz

    Cleaving the air cleanly means a car will be faster, quieter and more efficient. Here, we reveal the most aerodynamic new cars, ranked by coefficient of drag (Cd). Perhaps surprisingly, they’re not all low-slung sports cars.

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  • Porsche Taycan Turbo – 0.22 Cd

    Porsche Taycan Turbo – 0.22 Cd

    © Porsche

    The futuristic styling of the Porsche Taycan is also very aerodynamic, with a Cd of 0.22 – the joint best here. Being fully electric, the Taycan Turbo doesn’t actually have a turbocharger, but it can hit 62mph in just 3.2 seconds, plus travel 272 miles on a full charge.

  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon – 0.22 Cd

    Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon – 0.22 Cd

    © Mercedes-Benz

    The Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon also records a drag coefficient of 0.22, helped by a compact frontal area of 2.19 metres squared, an enclosed underbody and flush-fitting headlights. And its CLA cousin is just as slippery…

  • Mercedes-Benz CLA BlueEfficiency – 0.22 Cd

    Mercedes-Benz CLA BlueEfficiency – 0.22 Cd

    © Mercedes-Benz

    Much like how Mercedes-Benz keeps winning the F1 World Championship, the German brand only had itself to beat here. The CLA four-door ‘coupe’ previously set the record for the most aerodynamic new car back in 2013.

  • BMW 5 Series Efficient Dynamics Edition – 0.22 Cd

    BMW 5 Series Efficient Dynamics Edition – 0.22 Cd

    © BMW

    Cars that top the charts for aero efficiency are often special models built for reduced CO2 emissions. Developments like active shutters for its kidney grille, plus aerodynamically enhanced alloy wheels, are some of the measures used by BMW to reduce drag on the 5 Series.

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia Advanced Efficiency – 0.23 Cd

    Alfa Romeo Giulia Advanced Efficiency – 0.23 Cd

    © Alfa Romeo

    While undoubtedly pretty, ticking the right options boxes on the 180hp 2.2-litre turbodiesel Guilia can make the Alfa saloon even slinkier when it comes to cutting through the air. Major changes here include the ride height being lowered to aid aero efficiency, along with specially designed 16-inch alloys. The tyres have also been chosen for reduced rolling resistance.

  • Tesla Model 3 – 0.23 Cd

    Tesla Model 3 – 0.23 Cd

    © Tesla

    Not having a combustion engine to cool and feed with oxygen gives aerodynamicists far greater freedom when it comes to design. No gaping grilles means smoother airflow, which is important when you need to extract every last mile from your battery. We can only speculate that the large panel gaps seen on some Model 3s are intended to let the air flow more efficiently.

  • BMW 320d – 0.23 Cd

    BMW 320d – 0.23 Cd

    © BMW

    The BMW 320d is a car that does everything pretty well – including slipping through the air. A drag coefficient of 0.23 puts it on par with its arch-rival from Ingolstadt…

  • Audi A4 2.0 TDI Ultra – 0.23 Cd

    Audi A4 2.0 TDI Ultra – 0.23 Cd

    © Audi

    Another German car, another one aimed at the fleet market to ensure the lowest possible CO2 emissions. Audi’s ‘Ultra’ range was developed from the all-conquering Le Mans prototype racers, where aerodynamics are rather important.

  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon – 0.23 Cd

    Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon – 0.23 Cd

    © Mercedes-Benz

    Mercedes-Benz has a wind tunnel and clearly isn’t afraid to use it. In fact it was the E-Class from 1984 that marked the start of Stuttgart’s obsession with reducing drag. That car from over three decades ago managed a Cd figure of 0.27, thanks to a tapered rear end and discreet boot spoiler. Despite the latest E-Class being notably larger, advances in aero design mean it surpasses its predecessor with an impressive 0.23 figure.

  • Tesla Model S – 0.24 Cd

    Tesla Model S – 0.24 Cd

    © Tesla

    Much of the design language used on the Tesla Model 3 was inherited from the larger Model S. That the older, bigger car is also very aero-efficient should come as no surprise. Work was put into ensuring air flowed smoothly around the front wheels, given this area has massive implications for drag.

  • Toyota Prius – 0.24 Cd

    Toyota Prius – 0.24 Cd

    © Toyota

    The teardrop shape of the latest Prius is nothing new, but the fourth-generation car underwent significant changes to improve upon its predecessor. The roof line was arched forward, while extra underbody panels were added to smooth airflow. It all helps the hybrid Toyota achieve maximum MPG.

  • Hyundai Ioniq – 0.24 Cd

    Hyundai Ioniq – 0.24 Cd

    © Hyundai

    Hyundai’s big rival for the Prius is also clothed in a teardrop shape. There are a multitude of deliberate contours and creases on the Ioniq designed to channel air effectively over the hatchback body. The Ioniq hybrid features a three-stage active front grille, while the electric version uses a sleeker solid design.

  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class – 0.24 Cd

    Mercedes-Benz S-Class – 0.24 Cd

    © Mercedes-Benz

    The grandest of Mercedes-Benz saloons manages to achieve the same aerodynamic efficiency as smaller hybrid hatchbacks – that’s impressive. One key feature is that the front grille features shutters to direct airflow as needed, only using air to cool the engine when necessary.

  • BMW 7 Series L – 0.24 Cd

    BMW 7 Series L – 0.24 Cd

    © BMW

    By now you should be sensing a German car theme. A notable attribute of the 7 Series is active air suspension. Engaging Sport mode means the ride height of the largest BMW is lowered, aiding aerodynamic efficiency. There are also the requisite grille shutters and air curtains to help the big saloon along.

  • Tesla Model X – 0.25 Cd

    Tesla Model X – 0.25 Cd

    © Tesla

    Aside from the Model X, you’ll notice a general absence of luxury SUVs on this list. Their taller, boxier, shapes make cutting through the air harder, so aerodynamic performance naturally suffers. The Model X has the advantage of not having a big engine up-front to cool. For comparison, a Hummer H2 achieved a Cd of 0.57.

  • Porsche Taycan Turbo S – 0.25 Cd

    Porsche Taycan Turbo S – 0.25 Cd

    © Porsche

    The flagship Taycan isn’t quite as slippery as the (slightly) slower Turbo, but who’s complaining? The Taycan development team spent around 1,500 hours in the wind tunnel, and innovative features include large air inlets around the headlights. These ‘guide the air like a curtain over the front wheel housings’.

  • Audi E-Tron Sportback – 0.25 Cd

    Audi E-Tron Sportback – 0.25 Cd

    © Audi

    In Audi-speak, ‘Sportback’ means a sloping rear end – rather than the upright tailgate of the E-Tron SUV. It also means superior aerodynamics, with an excellent drag coefficient for a high-riding car.

  • 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid - 0.25 Cd

    2016 Kia Optima Hybrid - 0.25 Cd

    © Kia

    You can’t buy the Optima Hybrid in the UK, but it is available elsewhere. By now you’ll be able to guess some of the exterior elements that make it so efficient. There’s an active front grille, a special front air curtain and model-specific rear bumper. Don’t forget the unique alloy wheels, too.

  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatchback – 0.25 Cd

    Mercedes-Benz A-Class Hatchback – 0.25 Cd

    © Mercedes-Benz

    The A-Class hatchback may have beaten its saloon brother to market, but it cannot quite match the four-door when it comes to aerodynamics. The stumpier tail of a hatchback disrupts the air more than the sleek saloon, leading to more drag.

  • Ford Focus Saloon – 0.25 Cd

    Ford Focus Saloon – 0.25 Cd

    © Ford

    Proving the point again that saloons outperform hatches when it comes to drag is the Ford Focus. The fourth-generation hatchback appears later on our list, but the four-door Focus scores better. The only downside? UK buyers can’t have one.

  • Skoda Octavia – 0.25 Cd

    Skoda Octavia – 0.25 Cd

    © Skoda

    The latest Skoda Octavia outguns the closely related Mk8 Volkswagen Golf in several areas, including aerodynamics. A Cd of 0.25 is very impressive for a roomy family hatchback.

  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon – 0.26 Cd

    Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon – 0.26 Cd

    © Mercedes-Benz

    Be honest, you’re not shocked to see the C-Class saloon make this list. Active front grille shutters play a big part in reducing drag, as do the countless hours engineers spent in the wind tunnel.

  • Audi A6 Quattro – 0.26 Cd

    Audi A6 Quattro – 0.26 Cd

    © Audi

    Aside from making all versions of the new A6 saloon mild hybrids, Audi has also ensured it comes close to the aerodynamic prowess of rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Improving fuel economy matters to executive car buyers, but so does a quiet interior. Ensuring air flows smoothly around the car helps reduce wind noise, making the cabin more refined.

  • BMW i8 – 0.26 Cd

    BMW i8 – 0.26 Cd

    © BMW

    Many modern performance cars are focused on generating downforce to aid faster cornering, rather than letting air flow smoothly across the car. As a plug-in hybrid, though, the soon-to-be-discontinued i8 is a bit different. BMW used fluid dynamics to create the car’s shape, with cut-outs and air curtains galore. It clearly worked.

  • Audi A8 – 0.26 Cd

    Audi A8 – 0.26 Cd

    © Audi

    Autonomous driving capabilities might be the big sell for the Audi A8, but aero cleanliness is still important. Despite its bold front grille, the new A8 boasts a number of detailed tweaks to cut drag, such as specially designed exterior mirrors.

  • Mazda 3 Saloon – 0.27 Cd

    Mazda 3 Saloon – 0.27 Cd

    © Mazda

    Mazda’s latest SkyActiv engines use low compression to achieve greater efficiency, and are matched with swooping styling in the 3 saloon. Predictably, the four-door model outperforms the hatchback.

  • Ford Focus Hatchback – 0.275 Cd

    Ford Focus Hatchback – 0.275 Cd

    © Ford

    Ford had made bold claims for the fourth-generation Focus, touting it as the best car it has ever built. As with the saloon, features like active grille shutters help reduce aerodynamic drag. Despite its aero disadvantage, though, the five-door is more practical and, to our eyes, better looking.