Is front wheel drive obsolete? - BaseRSXmanual
I have a FWD car and I love my car. It is great fun to drive. But I know it would be even more fun to drive if it were rear wheel drive. Now that many cars are going AWD and most of the cars that are RWD offer traction control, is FWD a dinosaur? Why would you need FWD when you could have the same thing in RWD with TC. Plus if you live in an area with a lot of snow shouldn?t you be choosing an AWD car anyway? Not a FWD.

Any thoughts?
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - PhilW
Only that most people don't drive "for fun" and the "fun" of rear wheel drive would probably just mean "more dangerous" for the "average car owner". Also, I would suspect that for the average car "RWD plus TC" means "more expensive". And lastly, what percentage of car buyers live in areas "with a lot of snow" - so for the "average motorist" FWD represents the "safest", "most practical" (easier in snow than RWD, and not worth getting AWD for the one or two occasions per year when he/she has to drive in snow) and "cheapest". Is there a cheap(ish) family car with RWD or AWD?
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - BaseRSXmanual
Very good points. But here in America the family car has become an SUV or a minivan. Most minivans are FWD and all SUVs are 4x4. There are some very inexpensive ones like the Kia Sportage which is AWD. I would never suggest changing minivans to RWD of course. So I guess I should have worded my question more accurately. Is FWD obsolete in sports cars and luxury sedans? I think you call it ?salon? there instead of ?sedan? A sedan here is a 4-door car with a trunk (or boot as you would say). ;)
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - NitroBurner
BRm:

If you've got a FWD motor & you like it, then why worry? I've mainly owned RWD cars, but my current one is FWD & I think it's just dandy! TC doesn't solve everything - I know which wheels I'd rather have driven in snow & ice.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - BaseRSXmanual
Of course you are right. I just like to scrutinize everything. Even my own stuff;) Plus I still think my next car will not be a FWD.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - nick
AWD is not just better in snow, it's better all the time. Test drive a Subaru and compare the ride/handling to the competition. You wouldn't go back to anything less once you've had one.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Bill Black
I live in an area with mainly slushy snow and lotsa hills and I thought very seriously about an AWD this time. I've lived at the top of a fairly nasty hill for over twenty years and have always coped with a FWD, RWD drives are hopeless, at least without some sort of limited slip diff. All the RAVs and X-Trails reminded me too much of my old Landrover's pitching and tossing without the off-road capabilities. The Forester almost came home with me, great car but unfortunately too little luggage space. Same with the Legacy. I ended up with my fourth Citroen a C5 with ESP so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. On smooth roads I don't think the Forester's handling and ride are anything to shout about though, roll like crazy I reckon. The 'car' type AWDs have just got to get cheaper and a little bit more civilised yet but in a few years time I think it'll be AWD or RWD.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - El Hacko
Following 20 years of enjoying FWD, I have had a Lexus 200 for nearly two years and want to go back to surefootedness of fwd - perhaps we should swop!

El Hacko
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - J Bonington Jagworth
FWD is not a marketing decision (because most people simply don't care which wheels are driven) but an economic/packaging one. It's simply cheaper to make cars that way, especially with East-West engine layouts. Even Transits are FWD now!
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Dude - {P}
Although I currently run a RWD, there is no question that FWD reduces the risk of aquaplaning, as the wheels are being driven constantly and so able to prevent the wedge of water building up under the tyres and causing total loss of steering control.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Garethj
...there is no question that FWD reduces the risk of aquaplaning, as the wheels are being driven constantly and so able to prevent the wedge of water building up under the tyres and causing total loss of steering control.


I've never heard of this, are you sure? I thought it was only down to the pressure the tyre makes on the ground, purely down to the weight on the front wheels and the width of the tyres.

I was very happy with mid-engine and rear wheel drive on my own car because the limits of the car were far above my own, but it's down to suspension layout and tuning as well as drive layout - I don't remember people saying the Morris Ital was a fine handling car even though it had RWD! Beware of reading too much into what the press call a 'fun' handling car, some think that my daily commute involves at least 3 fast laps of Bruntingthorpe and a new set of tyres fitted every other Friday.

Gareth
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Dude - {P}
Having driven well in excess of a million miles during my lifetime, divided roughly equally between FWD & RWD, I would go as far as saying that many of todays younger drivers, that have grown up with nothing but FWD, have never experienced aquaplaning in their lives. I certainly never did with FWD !!!!

It is not a very pleasant feeling to lose total steering control and has caught out the best of drivers, such as Mike Hawthorn who was killed driving a RWD Jaguar 3.4.

Incidentally the main causes of aquaplaning are badly worn tyres, with incorrect tyre pressures and excessive speed. Width of tyre would also be an influencing factor.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Garethj
In reply to Dude;

I experienced aquaplaning with an old Golf GTi, the standard tyres were quite wide for the weight of car (but nothing compared to what we see on modern cars!) and just after it happened I decided I was going too fast for the conditions. I didn\'t think that rwd would have helped at the time but it\'s an interesting thought.

The last time I read about it, there were several unknown factors about Mike Hawthorn\'s death not just down to the weather conditions. I understood that an eyewitness described the engine being revved hard while the car was spinning, possibly down to the hand-controlled throttle which was fitted? Wasn\'t he also chasing a rwd Mercedes 300SL at the time?

Digressing a but from the original post, sorry.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Flat in Fifth
To be honest Dude I'm not too convinced about this either.

I would accept that the greater weight distribution on the front wheels on fwd should give slightly less tendency to aquaplane.

Perhaps when this happens the onset is more marked with fwd, ie one wheel spinning, steering pulling severely in one direction. As opposed to the other case with rwd where it all quietly goes light.

In other words maybe one never really gets to the everything is lost situation because a) it happens slightly later because of the greater weight, and b) it's effect is noticed earlier in the process?

Just my 2p.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Dude - {P}
I know we are digressing from the original thread, but I would like to know how much tread was actually left on your GTI`s tyres when this event happened??? I suspect they could have been fairly well worn.

Even though I drive an excellently handling RWD car, if I had to make an emergency swift journey over slippery A roads, I would take a FWD car every time. - A new Mini Cooper sounds about right to me.!!!!
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Garethj
I know we are digressing from the original thread, but I would like to know how much tread was actually left on your GTI`s tyres when this event happened??? I suspect they could have been fairly well worn.

Even though I drive an excellently handling RWD car, if I had to make an emergency swift journey over slippery A roads, I would take a FWD car every time. - A new Mini Cooper sounds about right to me.!!!!


No, the tyres had lots of tread but as I said, even the fishes that I could see through my side window were shaking their heads at me, I just didn't think that it would have been different in a rwd car. The more I think of this the more I think it's not so simple - if the torque is being transmitted through the front wheels and the puddle is worse on one side of the road (camber) then wouldn't you get a kind of torque steer when it got grip again? I'm not trying to deliberately argue with you but these things can be dependent on many more factors than just fwd or rwd. Anyone else?

Absolutely agree that for a swift journey on slippery A roads I'd want fwd too, I've got enough grey hair already.

One point that hasn't been touched on is that fwd can be a bit of a handful if the car is powerful and / or heavy. As stated though, there is also the prestige factor in the mix as well.

Gareth
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Vagelis
Dude - Fully agree with you re aquaplaning. Besides the weight factor, it is the constant torque being applied to the front wheels of FWD cars that helps with aquaplaning. In RWD cars the front wheels receive no torque, once water forms the film underneath, they can start spinning slower and re-gain traction much later.

Other than that, I think the single most important advantage of FWD cars is that they are easier to control when they start slipping. You lose the front? Get your foot off the acc. pedal. You lose the back? Step on it! Admittedly, losing the back is the trickiest, but with FWD cars, can be accounted for and avoided!

Modern FWD cars, designed to generally understeer when going fast, are much easier to drive for the majority of drivers. If it's ever going to lose the front, you only need to lift your right foot.

On the contrary, on RWD cars you can lose the back much easier and for more reasons (eg, slippery wet road). Oversteer is tricky on its own, the driving wheels being the rear ones only makes it worse. That's why all modern RWD cars are equiped with ESP, to control the hard-to-control oversteer.

IMO, RWD is for the capable and for enjoyment. All others are better with FWD. Big names still using RWD just do it to stay up to their reputation.

Vagelis.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Dude - {P}
Vagelis - Thanks for your support on this subject and your excellent thread.

Dude.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Flat in Fifth
I must be being thick here but I don't totally follow this logic.

The function of whether a film forms under the tyre causing it to lose grip is a function of water depth, speed, tread design and depth, and the weight / unit area on the tyre.

I honestly cannot see how the wheel being driven or not affects the point at which this film forms.

Now what happens after that point IS affected by whether the wheel is driven or not, surely that is the case. ie the driven wheel would presumably spin slightly and works its way down to the road surface?

Maybe I'm splitting hairs I dunno.

Perhaps we are coming to the same point from different directions that fwd cars are better for the average punter in lousy conditions.

Mind you I bet not many "average" punters would know that if the back end lets go they should boot it to pull it straight!
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Steve S
Excellent post Vagelis, snap oversteer is going to catch out far more drivers than progressive understeer.

Take a RWD car, add a slippery surface or sudden frost, throw in an auto box and you really do have a recipe for leaving the road backwards.

As for fun handling, early GTIs and Corrado V6s were great handlers. Also, if anyone seriously thinks it has to be RWD to be fun - two words, Alfa Romeo.

Don't get me wrong RWD is great for the track and in dry conditions.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Garethj
Excellent post Vagelis, snap oversteer is going to catch out far more drivers than progressive understeer.>>


Snap oversteer like a fwd Peugeot 306 would do?


>>As for fun handling, early GTIs and Corrado V6s were great handlers. Also, if anyone seriously thinks it has to be RWD to be fun - two words, Alfa Romeo.>>

Absolutely right, my Alfasud Sprint was one of the most enjoyable cars I've ever driven of any type. That was also down to the steering feel, power relative to grip, a perfect close ratio gearbox and a lovely engine note.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Vagelis
"Snap oversteer like a fwd Peugeot 306 would do?"

Now, that's a fine example of a FWD car oriented to oversteer! Most Peugeots before the 206 and 307 were incorporating a form of passive wheel steering-enabled rear axle. The 106 has it, the 306 had it, together with the Citroen ZX and other models. The resulting effect was that, when you turned the steering wheel rather sharply the weight transfer would press the outer rear suspension arm, which would temporarily budge and make its wheel slightly "look out". If you weren't prepared for it, you could very easily be cought looking at the road through the side windows! (I was cought once :-) The 205 was famed for its sharpness when exhibiting this behaviour.

My opinion is, FWD cars are easier to "tune" from the factory. As a direct opposite look at the Astra, Corsa: you just can't get that rear end to move, can you?

Vagelis.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - doctorchris
The big advantage of FWD is no prop shaft means much more space in the car for people and luggage, and isn't that what vehicles are all about, carrying people and things.
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - Flat in Fifth
The big advantage of FWD is no prop shaft means much
more space in the car for people and luggage, and isn't
that what vehicles are all about, carrying people and things.


Not always eg Caterham, Westfield, Lotus Elise.......

Horses for courses. Though in terms of everyday practical transport you are more or less correct.

Personally I think a lot of drivers who have only ever driven fwd cars would soon come unstuck (literally) in rwd vehicles.

Lot of years ago a police force which shall be nameless bought slightly modified 2.0 Cavaliers due to budget cut backs. Complaints that these things too ages to get anywhere in response mode were proved groundless as the average time to arrival at a shout increased by 2.0 secs or thereabouts.

When budgets improved and the fleet went back to Grandads etc surprising how many spins on roundabouts took place!

Is front wheel drive obsolete? - No Do$h
A mate has just handed back his company car (a Polo GTi that he has ragged to death) and had to buy his own car. He scraped together the pennies for a \'99 328 coupe with the sport pack.

I pointed out that winter was approaching and had he driven RWD before? He sheepishly admitted that he had traction control but didn\'t think he needed it as he was a relatively safe but quick driver in the polo.

It took about 15 seconds for him to turn the TC back on, by now somewhat ashen faced!

I\'m buying him some time on the skid pan as a \"welcome to your new car\" present. Then I\'m going to beat him round Thruxton in my diesel Alfa 156, just to annoy him......

:o)
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - owen
having managed to accidentally induce snap oversteer quie dramatically in a FWD car (a metro of all things), I am not entirely convinced that FWD is always safest. Although admittedly the only time i've driven a RWD car hard was on a rally day, i felt that losing the back end on a RWD car was much easier to control than snap oversteer in a FWD car, which when it's gone, you've got little to no chance of getting it back! Interested in other peoples views though....
Is front wheel drive obsolete? - GrumpyOldGit
Speaking from 40 years experience driving a wide range of vehicles FWD is clearly safer then RWD.

Re aquaplaning - I've aquaplaned both. I would much prefer to be driving a FWD car if I'm ever going to aquaplane again, though I try hard not to be so stupid now.

As mentioned above, FWD is also cheaper to produce, takes up less space and is lighter.

Having said that, if I had the cash I would go out today and buy a RWD car, the MG ZT 260!
 

Value my car