The top five engineering marvels of the Geneva Motor Show
As a qualified Mechanical Engineer, I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to the trinkets and hidden gems within car design, especially those that are pushing the boat out in terms of performance, durability or even revolutionising the fundamentals of driving.
The Geneva Motor Show always has some serious kit floating around throughout the week. And from my perspective, there have been some leaps forward in performance car engineering in many of the cars on show.
Let's take a look at this year's technical highlights:
Zenvo TSR-S Rear Centripetal Wing
As if a twin-supercharged V8 engine doesn't get my engineeringy senses tingling enough, Zenvo has taken its TSR track car, made it street legal and added a trick active rear wing that puts the likes of McLaren and Ferrari to shame.
The TSR-S has a wing that oscillates about the longitudinal axis of the car (side-to-side), countersteering itself when the car is turned into a corner. This is to maximise the lateral grip of the car through downforce, allowing it to carry more speed into and out of corners. It also has a 'normal' axis of rotation so that it can act as a standard spoiler and air brake like most supercars, but the main technical feat is the side tilting that allows the car to improve inner tyre grip and cornering stability.
Troels Vollertsen, Chief Technical Officer and Founder of the company, explains: “The Centripetal Wing is an exceptional development that allows for increased grip and higher cornering speed. Whereas most supercars only achieve optimum downforce in cornering at a certain speed, the multi-rotational function of the wing distributes downforce in an innovative way to deliver the optimum amount of cornering grip at any speed. Whilst lifting to boost downforce, the wing also tilts while cornering – for example, lifting the left side of the wing when cornering left and vice versa, to propel the car to the inside of the corner, ensuring exceptional stability and grip.”
The result is a car that creates three times as much downforce as the Zenvo TS1 GT thanks to thorough analysis of the entire aerodynamic package of the car.
The TSR-S may be dismissed at Geneva due to the bigger names on show but in terms of engineering, the guys and girls from the small Denmark firm have created what should be a seriously capable piece of kit.
The fact that the Rimac C_Two doesn't overheat
Take a look at the Nurburgring lap record list and you'll see that sitting at the top is an all-electric supercar called the NextEV NIO EP9. After a bit of research, you quickly realise that the record was a huge ordeal that was scuppered many times over due to the car constantly overheating from flat-out driving. And yet Rimac has revealed its new hypercar that can smash two laps of the Nordschleife with 'no negligible drop in performance'.
That is one hell of an accomplishment for a car that creates 1914hp and 1696lb ft of electric torque, and therefore a whole tonne of excess heat.
Rimac has managed to engineer 'animated' cooling ducts and channels to ensure that the battery packs and electric motors are kept cool throughout sustained periods of hard driving.
The tactile side of the car's cooling is orchestrated through a liquid cooling system - probably more akin to water-cooling systems for computers than a car radiator!
The Valkyrie AMR Pro's shark fin
If there was a track time trial at Geneva 2018, the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro would win. Easily.
The track-only special has taken Adrian Newey's ultimate road car design with its huge Venturi tunnels and aero slats and channelled a motorsport vibe with a large rear wing, a reworked front diffuser and a striking LMP1-style shark fin.
Milking the expertise from a partnership with Red Bull Racing, Aston has created a car that will be suctioned into the road like no other road-based car before it, with the shark fin helping to clean up and smooth out the air travelling along the car and channelling it to the rear wing. This increases the lateral grip of the car through the generation of downforce and helps increase cornering stability.
The AMR Pro takes the shark fin design from the current crop of LMP1 and F1 cars and uses it to help towards a downforce value of over 1000kg. And since the car weighs only 1000kg, the 1100bhp groundbreaking hypercar could - theoretically - drive upside down in a tunnel. Ridiculous.
The McLaren Senna GTR's colossal chin
The standard Senna is already a technical marvel from McLaren, but following in the footsteps of the F1 and P1 GTRs, a Senna GTR is now with us. And as far as the most obscene aero of the Geneva Motor Show goes, the Senna GTR easily takes home first place.
The rear diffuser is like nothing we've seen outside of bespoke racing cars and the rear wing is somehow even more obnoxious than the road car. It's the front lip spoiler however that is the highlight of the car, thanks to its frankly ridiculous protrusion from the front bumper of the car.
Used to catch incoming air and force the front axle into the tarmac, the spoiler must be over a foot long and contributes towards the 1000kg of downforce that the car creates. It doesn't look like it'll quite keep up with the Valyrie AMR Pro in terms of downwards stickiness but it has been touted as the fastest car around a track that McLaren has ever produced, outside of F1.
ABT RS4-R's front canards
ABT is on a bit of a role recently with slapping an extra 'R' onto already frighteningly quick Audi products. We've seen the RS6-R and the RS5-R, both of which are truly trouser troubling, and now it's time - predictably - for the RS4-R to take to the stage.
It's been tuned up to 523bhp and 509lb ft of torque, but ABT doesn't just focus on the internals.
Carbon fibre aero bits cover the car but the highlight is easily the sharply curved front canards. Initially used in sportscar racing back in the day to maximise front axle downforce, the RS4-R is made to look properly mean by the slats that arch upwards from the carbon fibre front grille.
Also used to calm and displace high pressure air away from the turbulence surrounding the front wheels, front canards are a bodywork mod that always seem to work visually, especially on a 500bhp+ RS Audi product.
These have been my technical highlights anyway, so now it's time to hear from you guys. What little piece of mechanical finery has caught your eye? Is there a tiny little aspect of a car from Geneva that is seriously techy and cool? Comment with your suggestions below!