Comfortdriver

Rear versus front wheel drive

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Having a rear wheel drive leaves the front wheels to focus on the job of steering the car. These cars have a tendency to oversteer - the tail wants to step out during turns. In the hands of an expert driver, rear wheel drives can be a lot of fun. But can be dangerous in the hands of a novice.

Front wheel drives on the other hand are safer for the novice, as they tend to understeer when driven hard - the front of the car wants to go towards the outside of the corner. This is easily correctable rather than oversteer. They are cheaper to build and easier to package, which is why most cars in India are front-wheel drives.

 

Rear wheel drives also generally suffer from greater transmission losses. The tranmission tunnel can also intrude in rear passenger legroom.

 

FRG

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Hi,

 

Thanks for starting the conversation. In fact, I learnt to drive in a front engined rear wheel drive car: The Hindustan Amby. It was long time back and I was really concentrating on my driving skills, any how it didn't have much to go, jus 30 odd bhp I think, to pull all that metal. It had drum brakes all round and was a hand full to drive in the rain, and the delco had to be enclosed in a plastic sheet to prevent the rain water from entering into it. If you go through a pool of water the brakes would either bite or would n't bite at all. We had that car for almost 20 years. Looking back, it was fun; I don't know if I'll be able to drive an Amby safely today, having got used to powersteering, ABS, and all round disc brake stopping power.

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The ultimate RWD slide out fun was with the 911 turbo, being rear heavy, rear engine car with good amount of power, an interesting thing would happen if you were taking a corner at high speed and would back off the throttle completely as is the normal case, the car would fishtail and in inclement weather, it would turn to be a veritable nightmare. Many used to be afraid to buy this car due to this characteristic. On the hands of proper drivers, it would be a pleasure as you could fishtail with control and come out faster from corners. Yokohama later designed a special edition tire for this vehicle namely the Yokohama A008P, this tamed this character quite a lot and made it predictable, it became OEM on 911 Turbo.

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front wheel drive is perhaps a compromise- the more compact and cheaper cars sport a front wheel drive. But the contemporary costlier cars all have rear wheel drives- right upto the Bentley, Rolls Royce and Maybach. Even I learnt to drive on a Mahindra jeep with a rear wheel drive. The dynamics are much better and handling is predictable.

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Having a rear wheel drive leaves the front wheels to focus on the job of steering the car. These cars have a tendency to oversteer - the tail wants to step out during turns. In the hands of an expert driver' date=' rear wheel drives can be a lot of fun. But can be dangerous in the hands of a novice.

Front wheel drives on the other hand are safer for the novice, as they tend to understeer when driven hard - the front of the car wants to go towards the outside of the corner. This is easily correctable rather than oversteer. They are cheaper to build and easier to package, which is why most cars in India are front-wheel drives.

 

Rear wheel drives also generally suffer from greater transmission losses. The tranmission tunnel can also intrude in rear passenger legroom.

 

FRG
[/quote']

 

Thanks this helps. Is there any reason that Mercs and BMWs opt for RWD, especially when it impacts the rear seating legroom when you need to seat three people? Audi and Volvo seem to opt for FWD.

 

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Mercs, BMWs are driver focussed cars, which is the reason for a rear-wheel drive setup. Even the 1 series hatchback from BMW has rear wheel drive.

Also a lot depends on the platform a car is based on. The Superb platform is also shared by the Audi A4, which is why the engine placement is longitudanal (A4 came with all-wheel drive version). Then there are costs involved. Its all about priority.

 

FRG

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When you accelerate, there is a weight transfer to the rear wheels, exactly where the traction is. Hence the better performance of the RWD. Also, RWD gets you closer to the adeal, 50:50 Front:rear weight distribution. This is the reason that some performance cars (notably Alfa) had front engine, rear gearbox. In a WFD car the engine normally hangs in front of the front wheels, making the weight distribution even more lop sided.

In general one may say that major advantage of FWD is mroe efficient 'packaging'. for performance the order will be AWD (all wheel drive), RWD, FWD in that order.

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When you accelerate' date=' there is a weight transfer to the rear wheels, exactly where the traction is. Hence the better performance of the RWD. Also, RWD gets you closer to the adeal, 50:50 Front:rear weight distribution. This is the reason that some performance cars (notably Alfa) had front engine, rear gearbox. In a WFD car the engine normally hangs in front of the front wheels, making the weight distribution even more lop sided.

In general one may say that major advantage of FWD is mroe efficient 'packaging'. for performance the order will be AWD (all wheel drive), RWD, FWD in that order.


[/quote']

 

Thanks. Will there be any difference in the ride quality?

 

 

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i  love the rear wheel drive cars  specially when you have  powerfull engine its easier to control,  but the economy is with only front wheel drive cars , but  why we see a transmission tunnel in many front wheel drive cars ?

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One would assume in a fwd as there is more weight in the front you would get more traction

Reminds of the Renault ADS in the late 60's.

However, the poor weight distribution F to R tends to make braking more dodgy. Essentially in a FWD when you accelerate the weight moves to the rear, not very good. When you brake the front gets even more loaded!

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One more to what FRG said!! The real wheel drives produce good amount of torque compared to the ones of d front wheel drive.... but the acceleration is better on the front wheel drive since their is a minimal transmission loss and therefore better pick ups during start ups....

 

Happing Motoring!!

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Torque is a property of the engine and (at the wheel) transmission. FWD and RWD has nothing to do with it. As for transmission losses they are essentially zero (or minimal) whether FWD or RWD. an RWD will have weigth transfer to the rear during acceleration, hence still better traction. Whle a FWD has weight transfer to the rear during acceleration, I think with the lopsided (70:30 or worse) weight distribution in a FWD the front wheels even under acceleration may have more weight the rears in a RWD.

The crux may then be in the handling.

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The tail happy character of 911 made it endearing to many hardcore drivers who would use that very nature to its maximum advantage. Now Porsche has to market the 911 to a broader public and therefore sadly, they made it neutral. The Mitsubishi 3000GT VR4 is another fine example of AWD, this time with all wheel steering as well. Since its able to put almost all of its 320 twin turbo bhp on tarmac, the acceleration is just simply neck straining.

Innova is no van, its actually an elongated station wagon and yes, it handles better than Civic if you know how to use the oversteer.

About AWD, in early 90s, Walter Rohrl the German rally driver decimated the competition with AWD Audi Quattro Turbo in the SCCA races, no big block US V8s could catch him. The AWD could be tossed with abandon that no 2WD would allow, most of the time Rohrl would be throwing the car off the tarmac in the corners and his AWD would allow him to recover with far more cornering speed. Needless to say after that domination, AWD was banned from that category. Also don't forget Porsche's ultimate offering in the 959, it was a showcase of AWD tech, only prohibitive costs kept that vehicle out of production. The Nissan Skyline GTR is another prime example of AWD done right.

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i  love the rear wheel drive cars  specially when you have  powerfull engine its easier to control' date='  but the economy is with only front wheel drive cars , but  why we see a transmission tunnel in many front wheel drive cars ?[/quote']

Law required the handbrake to be connected mechanically to the wheels. With the advent of the e-brake, you won't find them - take a look at the Civic.

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