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FWD -V- 4WD, any opinions?

Discussion in 'A3/S3/Sportback (8P Chassis)' started by sleep envy, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. sleep envy
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    sleep envy Member

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    following on from this http://www.audi-sport.net/vb/showthread.php?t=50317 I agreed with Pedro so have started a new thread to stop the other going off topic


    I very much doubt that a 4wd will have much advantage over a fwd car of the same model, displacement and power output (especially low output cars such as the A3) having driven a number of cars whereby I have been able to try it for myself. It's also been investigated, albeit in a crude manner, I have a dark and distant memory of a Performance Car test where they pitched a FWD A6 against a 4WD A6 - pretty much every aspect was compared from cernering speeds and lateral G, to braking distances and times, accelration from standstill and in gear etc The only advantage a 4WD car had over it's FWD variant was on standing start acceleration. In that situation a RWD would lose less advantage to a 4WD.

    During normal road driving I'd be surprised if anyone could notice the difference between the two. Under braking and straight roads there's no benefit of having 2 extra driven wheels. 'd also wager that one would only be able to tell the difference when really pressing on by steering angle inputs and yaw/pitch angles - both would be far higher on a 4WD car that 2WD, mainly due to additional weight, both sprung and unsprung but if you get to that point you'll probably be flung off the road for pedalling like a twat if the BiB don't catch you first.

    Cornering is affected by many things but in this case (2WD -v- 4WD) it's mass and weight distribution that causes the biggest effect. Adding a driven axle, diff and driveshaft will alter the CoG creating the perception that a car handles better - it doesn't. What happens here is that additional mass is dampening force. Grip is ultimately defined by tyre grip rates and the forces they are subjected to.

    Colin Chapman had an idea or two about that and, great engineer that he was, he wasn't also getting it right all the time. The Louts 63 F1 car was 4WD but Andretti and Mills hated the 4wd system so much so that they dialled all the drive to the rear wheels as to make the car more stable...

    Audi stole the pace with the Ur-Quattro in rallying with 4wd - ever noticed how they managed to get out of low speed corners so much faster than the equivalent Ford, Lancia and Vauxhall? Everyone's time for long, straight stage sections were pretty much the same.

    Also, please be aware that when you talk of extreme conditions regardless of the drivetrain nothing will save you if you are exceeding the tyre grip rates - I've been up many a snowy alp in a FWD when a number of 4wd cars got stuck.

    Futhermore, if you're gunning a car to get 3rd gear wheel spin on a wet road you're wasting energy and aren't necessarily going as fast as you think you are ;)

    Aside from that I'm not going to even begin discussing AWD - it's a completely different topic. BTW, A3s are 4wd :)
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  2. lil_coz
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    lil_coz Active Member

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    I'm thinking this thread is going to get a battering!

    But i agree. Quattro isnt something you "need" in the 170. Yes the TC light comes on but thats probably more the electronics kicking in too early. A good driver will learn to adjust his right foot accordingly and avoid wheelspin without TC.

    Its generally accepted that for a FWD car you can put about 220 bhp through the from wheels without the car starting to get 'dangerous' on the limit when pushing on (Fords new RS with 300 bhp and FWD will be interesting with its 'clever diff').

    If you get a skilled driver take an A3 170 Q and FWD round Silverstone (in the dry), he'll prob post v similar lap times because the car is well within the limits of the circuit speed. Maybe even post a slightly faster time in the FWD car because of the lighter weight. In the wet the Q will be quicker hands down. Thats racing on a track....

    Under normal driving conditions on the roads (wet or dry) nobody needs 4WD because your not pushing the car (not supposed to be anyway). Maybe with the exception of snow will it come in handy... but even so, not a necessity!

    All comes down to preference at the end of the day! I know which way I went.... :)
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  3. siu00adg
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    siu00adg Member

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    I've owned two FWD cars and now I own an S3 with AWD, to be honest I haven't noticed that much difference appart from much less understeer when you're gunning it and the tyre wear is much more even. In a car pushing out over 200bhp, or a diesel with loads of torques I think there is a case for AWD, but only if you plan to drive it like you stole it once in a while! For every day driving there will be no difference appart from fuel ecconomy. Having said that it is nice to know I won't torque steer into a tree, especially when I chip it!
    #3
  4. lil_coz
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    lil_coz Active Member

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    Thats the way i looked at it! On the odd occasion when you do grow lead feet!
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  5. sleep envy
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    sleep envy Member

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    agree in the main except for 2 points;

    a FWD layout cannot apply more than approx 220bhp and 170 lb/ft without aids (TC, LSD, LC) simply due to physics - it's pulling the car rather than pushing it. In a RWD layout it's no problem at all.

    whilst the Q will be quicker it depends on the circuit and the number of low speed corners - I'd even wager the FWD car will be quicker through high speed direction changes and under braking due to the reduced amount of mass
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  6. sleep envy
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    sleep envy Member

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    interesting comment about tyre wear, my old Integrale would go through front tyres quicker than the rears

    admittedly it was running fairly agressive negative camber top mounts but even when I put it back to standard it never gave even wear

    ps - please be aware that 4WD and AWD are 2 different systems :)
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  7. lil_coz
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    lil_coz Active Member

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    Sorry... Thats what i ment. Having a car with that much power is silly without any aids.

    With regards to the wet track, you have a point with the track layout etc but i'm generalising. If you take specifics then theres always situations when a FWD will be quicker than a 4WD and the other way around.
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  8. jamiekip
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    jamiekip Guest

    Interesting debate this one!

    So, covering off a few of your points:

    Lower powered cars - can we define this??? Having test driven 200bhp TFSI A3's in both fwd and 4wd I can vouch, when you're pushing on, the Quattro really does alter the driving experience.
    Also with regards weight benefits on 2wd over 4wd - not sure it will make the huge impact to handling you make out, in fact it probably evens out weight distribution in the car - and extra set of driving wheels will enahnce handlng more I think.

    In a 140 bhp PETROL - would the 4WD help much - only when really abusing it I guess.
    In diesels - I think it has it's place, my Dad's A4 130 and his Golf GT TDi 140, both FWD are fine for his day to day driving, but on the occassion where he may have mis-judged the speed of another car when pulling out of a junction, or some toher perfectly plausible situation you could encounter on our roads and he puts his foot down - instant wheelspin then left high and dry when the TC kicks in!!!

    So, normal day to day driving - you're right, 4WD plays very little in to the experience and if you only drive to get where you're going, rather than for the sake of it, then yeah fwd would be more than sufficient.

    But let's face it 4WD is about traction and here it does come in to it's own, so if you do like to press on it makes a huge difference - no wheel spin, just forward motion. I remember when I first got my last S3, 'only' 210bhp, but the first time I took it out in anger it was fantastic - and yes I know, it's not the all time greatest 'drivers car' but I'm not bothered about hanging the arse end of my car out on every corner, I like to put my foot down occassionally but feel sure footed when I do so.
    In the new S3 it's a step forward again, and don't forget, in your fwd car, when you start to understeer out of say a 2nd gear corner, in the quattro versions, keep your foot in, and the haldex will be putting power to the back axle meaning the attitude of the car will adjust - less speed scrubbed away more forward motion!

    I do think it's a very subjective matter though - I have a mate who refused, years ago, to get rid of his MK2 Golf Gti 16v - he loves it to bits and it does handle like it's on rails, but it's different, and that does only have 'modest' power - but is also regarded as one of the all time great fwd chassis!

    Wehther or not 4wd is safer - well it's all relative - if you drive 4wd or 2wd like a muppet you're asking for trouble, and like someone mentioned in the other thread you have to pinch yourself when you first get a 4wd car - you maybe able to get going better in snow, but when it comes to stopping, we're all in the same slippy situation!!!

    Interetsing debate - but a very subjective one.... good call posting this in a new thread....
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  9. sleep envy
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    sleep envy Member

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    I'm not so sure - I'm by no means what I consider to be a good driver (maybe average at best) but in my track car can feel the difference between 1/4, 1/2 and a full tank of fuel. In any case the less mass you have to move the better as you're not going from extreme to extreme with pitch and yaw



    bang on the money - this is exactly the place where I feel 4WD makes a difference, standstill or low speed acceleration

    IMO, I think that's more to do with the chassis dymnaics than the drivetrain :)


    depends if you like to be heavy handed or fancy a challenge - sure, if you stamp on the throttle in a FWD it'll light up the front tyres but where's the fun/challenge in that? And in any case, all these severe conditions that everyone bangs on about, who exactly is pressing on so much that they're looking for 1/10th of a second on a bend?


    agreed!!

    205 1.9 are better ;)


    true but don't thank me, thank Pedro! :)
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  10. jamiekip
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    jamiekip Guest

    True, I can feel the difference in my car when the tank empties.
    But, the extra weight can be deemed part of the challenge too (here come the subjective bits!!), taming the extras mass is just as rewarding as getting a fwd car off the line without wheel spin!!!
    The difference in unladen weight between an 3 door A3 TDI 170 fwd and 4wd is 100kg, but all that mass is very low in terms of centre of gravity as it's in the transmission, so is not going to impact handling drastically. Also, it's fair to assume that the extra weight is behind the fron axle all the way to the rear of the car - surely that is evening out weight distribution which will actually enhance the ride???

    Also - 4wd Audi touring car - banned - even with weight penalties, Nissan Skyline GTR GT car in Japan GT series - 4WD banned.... they we're all heavier than the 2wd cars but beat the opposition!!!



    But what about traction out of roundabouts, 2nd and 3rd gear corners, especially with greasy roads (frequent in britain!) - I can certinaly feel when the 4wd is helping get the power down.


    This one really IS subjective - I was at a track day at mallory park last year, weather was awful and it was funny watching a lot of the fwd cars trying to get round the fast 180 degree first corner, everyone committing then drifting away from the apex and getting off the gas mid corner to come back on-line - with a queue of 4wd cars waiting to biton the corner exit - sure it was a challenge for the fwd cars, but frustrating for the 4wd lot - as they weren't getting challenged at those slower speeds. All bar a Jabba Corrado that was packing some serious hardware including a LSD - don't know what was under the bonnett but it was stripped and absolutely flew!!!
    On the roads - i'm not looking for every 1/10th of a second, but it's all about what's enjoyable to me - and 4wd ticks my box!


    OK, you win on that one - but only cause they had a lot more play from the rear end :)
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  11. sleep envy
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    sleep envy Member

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    that's to do with low speed traction - once you're hooked up it translates to a higher speed all the way down the straight to the next corner


    IMO, if you're getting 2nd and 3rd gear wheel spin they it's either one of of three things - you're doing it on purpose, you're being lazy and not reading the topography or you've be caught by surprise. I drive between 35-40k miles a year and have been on occasion caught out but it is the exception rather than the rule. I doubt I have yet to benefit running 4WD during day to day driving,

    we they doing it lapafter lap? if so maybe they should have tried going off line to find more grip else where?? or maybe taking the instructor with them - always worth it as I pick up loads of tips off them and they help me find the smoother lines = faster laps!



    at the end of the day that's what counts regardless of the load of guff people post on fora :)
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  12. phantom
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    phantom On Boost

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    Ive only just joined the Quattro gang!

    I had the mk2 Leon Cupra , a fantastic car for 20k , but getting the power down on wet/greasy roads was hard work! 240-260bhp going through the front wheels was a no no if you have a heavy right foot ( like me ) it just spun , TC light was on , flickering away!

    The Cupra would never take the remap which i was hoping to do in the future , and i live in Manchester and it rains a lot!

    I sold up and bought the S3 , ive not felt any wheel spin what so ever , really glad i made the change!

    p
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  13. Bong Water
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    Bong Water In two minds

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    I have had FWD, RWD and Quattro now, I dont think I will ever go back to others, FWD can be more fun but the grip available in AWD is just amazing wet or dry
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  14. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    For me, I've ordered a 140bhp diesel which will get remapped to about 180bhp. There is no need for 4WD. I'm putting coilovers and Anti roll bars on my car anyway so I'll have no complaints with the handling. The 4wd drinks more fuel and is only neccesary on cars pushing 260bhp+ imo.

    I'm glad of which route I went down :icon_thumright:
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  15. boggysv
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    boggysv Member

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    Just for the sake of jumbling things here, fwd can indeed be faster on track.

    http://forums.audiworld.com/tt2/msgs/18547.phtml

    [​IMG]


    Stasis fwd TT, faster than a awd car on a roadcourse. (Though it packs a lsd)
    I wasnt a believer until driving a integra type-r a while back, really opened my eyes.

    Having said that, imho, normal (i.e. open diff) fwd cars with more than 200hp do suck a tad for agressive driving, but perfectly fine otherwise.
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  16. jamiekip
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    jamiekip Guest

    Those times are for different types of cars though - FWD TT is a whole lot lighter than a big S4! And LSD is a whole other debate! :)

    I guess it all boils down to what you want out of your car!
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  17. lil_coz
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    lil_coz Active Member

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    Yup. I prefer the feeling of the car digging in and moving forward when i bury the throttle
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  18. dipstic
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    dipstic Member

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    As a performance aid AWD/4WD is really only usefull if you have enough BHP to overcome the transmission lose incurred (pos 30/40bhp)
    As a driving aid (safety) well worth having (even with the mpg loss) really depends mainly on your driving style.
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  19. Amchlolor
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    Amchlolor Active Member

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    There was something on here last week, where Audi were actually stating quattro was loss free....
    I had to laugh at that.
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  20. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Indeed Bowfer. They are chattin du du
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  21. Bong Water
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    Bong Water In two minds

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    I think you guys are forgetting about the additional traction vs BHP loss. Not that BHP bothers me, I dont chase figures anymore its just that its one aspect of a cars performance
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  22. julians
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    julians Member

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    The s3 is the first car I've had that drives all four wheels, and I have to say the traction in any conditions is incredible, you dont have to think, you just plant your foot and it goes. There is some understeer, but I wonder how much of that could be cured through a different geometry setup and a haldex PP controller.

    I've also had RWD cars (MGF,Lotus Elise, TVR Cerbera, Caterham 7, Honda s2000), and they were/are a far more rewarding drive than 4wd/awd/fwd, and much more 'fun'.

    All the FWD drive cars I've owned (various euroboxes plus a fiat coupe 20v turbo) were pretty dull, and understeery.
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  23. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    lol
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  24. dipstic
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    dipstic Member

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    That is my point exactly you have got to get a lot of traction gain to compensate for bhp loss and you aint gonna get it on a straight road
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  25. Spin140
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    Spin140 Active Member

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    I'm not sure I'll ever go back to FWD again, I would consider RWD for the fun factor but since owning the S3 it has really hammered home the message about understeer and more importantly how 'comforting' AWD can be when pressing on in all weather conditions. I can put up with the 3/4 mpg loss for the extra traction.
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  26. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    I would never own RWD, I don't think. Prefer FWD or 4WD.
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  27. julians
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    julians Member

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    I dont know how you can prefer FWD to RWD.

    FWD makes for a pretty abysmal drive in most cases IMO.

    I can see how people would prefer 4WD to RWD, I think I do for road driving in this country.

    I reckon 4wd ends up pretty boring on track though.

    I would never choose FWD unless I was buying something cheap purely to do a specific job, ie just get from A - B and be better than walking.
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  28. newbiecrg
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    newbiecrg windsurfer

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    I must say I agree with overall opinions.

    The fact that 4WD takes some of the bhp makes less powerfull engines struggle to pull so makes those cars not fun at all. But even in those I think a 4WD system is beneficial in wet/slippery conditions. But maybe not cost/effective yes.

    Also slow corners is where 4WD makes more difference off course, roundabouts are absolutly "ironed" by my S3, I can only imagine a proper AWD like an EVO... At higher speeds and in a straight line makes absolutly no difference and in a track if the car in a fast sweeping corner has an understeery behaviour, the power transfer to the rear wheels can help sort that nature and traction won't be lost.

    On a everyday driving around town (except pulling away in a wet road) the 4WD might well be unnoticiable to the driver, fair on that.

    The question of the additional weight for me does not make sense in the way that I only have one car so I don't compare with a similar spec FWD so me driving the S3 becomes only natural, nothing more... But the weight is there and the disadvantages it brings might be overcome by the additional traction available at times... but difficult to measure and to assess properly.

    Personally I won't go back to FWD ever, for me either 4WD (quite happy with the simple Haldex system), AWD be it the likes of EVO, proper Quattro, etc. I like RWD having driving for many years racing karts. RWD is actually on my shopping list...

    As I said before even the most powerfull car can live without 4WD, FWD depends how you drive it, how it delivers the power and the amount of torque from lower revs... My dad would even drive a Ferrari without wheelspining it, he is so smooth and slow driver.

    I personally like to put my mind of it when driving it and like to know that all the available power is going to be put in good use when I floor it. And believe me I can drive with a egg underneath the accelerator pedal and I would', break it! Karting.... teaches you so much about feeling a car.

    Very interesting that the first time I pushed the traction limits of my S3 I could really feel the rear wheels getting some of the power and the back end of the car just coming right to compensate/eliminate the start of understeer. Quite used to it theses days, don't feel it that much but it is there... lolol

    Anyway, in the end we all love to drive and in different ways, be it just cruising and packing miles or a good track day testing the our limits (not the car...)

    Drive safely!

    Pedro
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  29. lil_coz
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    lil_coz Active Member

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    What karts do you race Pedro?
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  30. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    In the 350z in the wet. The back end comes out. Hence I prefer. FWD to RWD, and 4WD overall. depends what you want out of a car.
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  31. julians
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    julians Member

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    The back end only comes out if you put your foot down too much, and thats what makes RWD fun, because you can choose to do that.

    It does depend what you want out of a car, but I suspect that most people would prefer RWD over FWD if they spent long enough getting to know how to drive one correctly and they enjoy driving in general rather than just using a car to get from A - B.

    RWD is a far more rewarding and fun drive. I can see how RWD would feel less stable than FWD, but ultimately , once you have learnt how to drive one, they are far more interesting,fun, entertaining etc.

    But, each to their own etc etc
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  32. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Indeed. I prefer 4WD. and no i was driving fast when the back end came out. anyway this thread is draggin on. im done.
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  33. jamiekip
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    jamiekip Guest

    A bit of traction loss in rear wheel drive is far more of a challenge than understeer - RWD is THE driving challenge for me, i'm not saying it's best, but it's certainly offers the most enjoyment on the right road in the right conditions. When the conditions are rubbish, then 4WD has to be the weapon of choice.
    FWD - yes it offers some challenge, but when you get beyond the limits your options are limited - you're understeering!

    Some cars have made FWD enjoyable, I mentioned above, MK2 GTi and 205 GTi, but let's not forget FWD was invented as a cost saving measure in the mass production of cars, it's not designed to be the optimal set up
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  34. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    lol indeed.
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  35. bacardi
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    anyone got any idea's of how much power is lost in an Audi FWD and 4WD installations?

    Its not just the weight increase ito take into account, its the power loss in moving all the extra drive shafts and diffs

    I can see 4WD on an S3 needed, on a Diesel I'm not so sure

    My impreza needed AWD :)

    My A3 doesn't
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  36. N8
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    N8 Kowalski Details

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    Indeed. I don't need 4WD on a 140bhp Audi A3. Coilovers and anti-roll bars will sort out any handling problems associated with front wheel drive. Anyway I won't be "DRIVING" the car hard enough regularly enough to warrant 4WD, as mentioned before only benefits with 265bhp+ imo..
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  37. sleep envy
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    not that much TBH until Audi change their philosophy of mounting their engines behind the front axle line - you can't do much about the mass of a heavy engine right on the nose of the car


    I'll think you'll find a good FWD set up is far more pointy to the edge of the envelope than 4WD or AWD can ever be, which is 99% of the time

    Drove from London ---> Plymouth ---> London today on mostly A roads as I wasn't in much of a rush - 510 miles all in. I lost 12 mpg on the Q compared to my FWD and no where near as much fun.

    I'm beginning to think that 4WD/AWD is more of a psycological aid ;)

    ps - for the last time 4WD and AWD are not the same, the A3 runs a 4WD system!!!!
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  38. julians
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    Probably true, I was looking at that the other day. Compared to my s2000 where the engine was quite a way behind (closer to the driver) the front axle line, the s3 engine (and presumably every other a3 variant) was way in front of it.

    Mind you over the years I have experimented on the track with different geometries on my caterham and you'd be amazed at the difference a change of toe or camber angle can make (both good and bad).
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  39. sleep envy
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    sleep envy Member

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    true what you say - I mucked about with the -ve camber settings on my Integrale and E30 M3, made huge differences. must be like night and day on a pilchard tin :thumbsup:

    running a very agressive fast road set up on my 993 - it's not quite track but not far off, it can sniff an off camber at 500 yards :ohmy:
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  40. warren_S5
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    warren_S5 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Britain has 190+ wet/damp days a year.

    I don't think that wet weather consistutes a requirement for 4wd/AWD, but my last car was a FWD Leon Cupra R with a stage 2 pack (circa 280bhp). Now although I concede that this is not major power by todays standards, in the wet it was 'interesting' to drive and aquaplaned badly and wheelspun like a b1tch, and if the snow started to fall you had to caress it like a baby. My commute home used to be 72 miles, and one December night it started to snow and it took me over 5 hours to get home. I spun the car once going up a hill, and sat wheelspining at multiple sets of traffic lights as I couldn't get any grip off the line. Newish P-Zero Rosso's didn't help, but it was the stuff of nightmares and by the time I parked the car in the garage I was knackered emotionally!!!
    After this episode I uprated mounts, fitted braces, but it was still more of the same. I thought about new suspension, then gave up and chopped in for the S3.

    At Castle Combe last year an S4 decided to deposit its oil on the track, and as I approached the first corner the car (the S3) started to slide horribly out of control. I and my passenger are convinced that without the Haldex / systems on the car we'd have had a healthy trip across the grass. To me it was the first example I'd had of the ability of the system. I was always dubious, and bemoaned the transmission losses, weight, necessity of 4wd in the UK, but I have to say its far better and much less intrusive than I thought. Ultimately, although its 4wd it still behaves as a 2wd until things get tricky, so its a safety net as opposed to a constant system. In summary I've gone from the position of mocking it to actually thinking its pretty good. On the roads you never know whats round the next bend, and I don't think my chances are reduced by having Haldex under the floorpan. The latest evolutions seem much better. Certainly not a purist driving experience, but then I'm just a regular guy with moderate driving skills, not Michael Schumacher.
    #40

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