Minichamps 1:43 NSU Ro80

Minichamps 1:43 NSU Ro80

The wipers really let this R080 model down.

Rating: 3.6/5

Wikipedia

The NSU Ro 80 was a technologically advanced large sedan-type automobile produced by the West German firm of NSU from 1967 until 1977. Most notable was the powertrain; a 113 bhp (84 kW; 115 PS), 995 cc twin-rotor Wankel engine driving the front wheels through a semi-automatic transmission employing an innovative vacuum system. It was voted Car of the Year for 1968 by European motoring writers.

Other technological features of the Ro80, aside from the powertrain, were the four wheel ATE Dunlop disc brakes, which for some time were generally only featured on expensive sports or luxury saloon cars. The front brakes were mounted inboard, reducing the unsprung weight. The suspension was independent on all four wheels, with MacPherson struts at the front and semi-trailing arm suspension at the rear, both of which are space-saving designs commonly used today. Power assisted ZF rack and pinion steering was used, again foreshadowing more recent designs.

The car featured an automatic clutch which was commonly described as a three-speed semi-automatic gearbox: there was no clutch pedal, but instead, on top of the gearknob, an electric switch that operated a vacuum system which disengaged the clutch. The gear lever itself then could be moved through a standard ‘H pattern’ gate.

The styling, by Claus Luthe who was head of design at NSU and later BMW, was considered very modern at the time and still holds up well; the Ro 80 has been part of many gallery exhibits of modern industrial design. The large glass area foreshadowed 1970s designs such as Citroën‘s. The shape was also slippery, with a drag coefficient of 0.355 (very good for the era, although average for modern cars). This allowed for a top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h). Indeed, comparisons have been drawn between the design of the Ro80 and the aerodynamic 1982 Audi 100 – ironically built in the same factory some 15 years later.

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