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Handling - 4WD vs RWD vs FWD

Discussion in 'A3/S3 Forum (8L Chassis)' started by dcallaghan, Oct 6, 2004.

  1. dcallaghan
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    dcallaghan Member

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    [Oct 6, 2004]
    I see many posts on this and other forums regarding 4WD vs RWD vs FWD but haven't seen any posts where anyone seems to be on the same planet as me. The motoring press same to all sit on the same planet as well (planet BMW).

    To me handling is how predictable a car responds to your input. Everyone else seems to think it corresponds to cornering grip. How many people agree with me!

    On a smooth track, with low speed corners etc I would probably want RWD, but in the real world, with trees and walls 6 foot away, uneven surfaces etc I easily prefer 4WD.

    Every high powered RWD car I have had a play with on the road has been left wondering where all their 'handling' is as I disappear into the distance on the twisties in my underpowered S3.

    Top of the pile for real handing I have driven I would put the Peugeot 106 Gti (FWD), second the 306 Gti (FWD), third the Ferrari 355 (RWD), fourth EVO 6 (4WD). All the beemers I have driven seem soft and skitty except the latest M3, which was OK. For driving fast on uk roads however I can't think of a better car than an EVO, S3, Subaru etc.

    Anyway, to round off my long rant, everytime I drive an Audi Quattro, be it 1.9 diesel or whatever, I come out thinking 'what a car!' (except the new A3 3.2). Everytime I drive a beemer, I come out thinking 'what do people see in these things?'

    Is it just me? Should I keep off the beer?
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  3. imported_Rooney
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    imported_Rooney Guest

    [Oct 7, 2004]
    all very good points IMO!

    My 2p

    As being lucky enough to drive a fair few cars im my limited time, I believe handling is, as stated before, cornering grip, to what it does at the limit, how well it turns in, how it comes out and also how easy it is to recover when things go wrong.

    I only recently gave up racing with my neighbours team as I don’t have enough spare time any more to do so but what everyone said above is pretty much it!

    Track Day plus fun road driving = RWD
    easy driving while fun at the same time = 4WD
    fun driving plus economy - FWD

    Don’t believe this as its a passage from the bible! cos there are sooo many exceptions! (i.e bad cars!)

    IMO Great handling cars i have driven.

    FWD - Peugeot 106 GTi (i use to own one), 205 GTi 1.9 cool car, john cooper works mini (just because its so easy to recover) Clio 172 is good, Honda civic VTi was good but it has modified shocks and springs, civic Type R was ok.

    4WD - S3 easy to throw around with confidence. Subaru RB5 good in general, but likes to under steer when pushed into a long fast corner (To be expected) Nissan Pulsar's are ok but under steer quicker than the Subaru’s.

    RWD - E46 M3 good car with loads of power if needed, Boxter 2.7 good car, vx220 2.2 handles well, Clio v6 was really fun as it was a really dry day!

    Admittedly all the cars I raced on a track were rwd one seaters except a brief period in a tvr tuscan so I like RWD cars on the whole and would personally prefer one on the road but I just could find a cost effective alternative to the S3, I was looking for fun power and luxury! So I got all three, well almost all three, still waiting to get it mapped 1st.

    Only one thing I want to disagree on is that I personally thought that the 306Gti-6 was a bit boat like, but admittedly I did drive one while still owning my 106 GTi back in the day.
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  4. Anito
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    Anito Member

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    I've had my A4Q for 4 years now and I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with it. What I like the most is that it is dependable and gives me confidence to drive how I like, regardless of the conditions but especially in the slightly damp greasy conditions we get so much.

    This is all highly subjective and you may well find that the type of drive people prefer is reflected in their choice of car. As an example everyone I know who owns an M3 loves to drive on the edge. If you ask the same of the people on this forum they probably want something a bit more balanced from their car
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  5. aagallarini
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    aagallarini Member

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    I'll agree with one thing... handling is a very subjective topic. Handling is more closely related to the driver than the car. To say that one car handles better than another is tougher than it is to pick one driver over another. Many drivers complain about a car understeering too easily, when perhaps it's actually their own expectation that the car is by some miracle going to grip better than it is capable of. For instance, a good friend of mine drives a WRX (US model). We had been competing with each other for a year or so with me driving my 88 Integra RS with heavily modified suspension. We had very similar tires and were consitantly about .75 seconds apart (I'm ahead each time) in autocross events. We both drove my Integra at an event, where we were separated by about 1 second. We later both drove his car at an event where I was still ahead of him by about .75 seconds. The difference in our driving was all that separated us. The cars were virtually equal.

    I've driven a couple of each type of drivetrain and would agree with the RWD being best suited for racing and fun driving, etc, as long as the cars are basically in stock trim. To me the ultimate package would be AWD, light weight with a VERY ADJUSTABLE suspension and sticky tires. Perhaps a TT trimmed down to about 2100 pounds with 250 hp and video game-like suspension. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif
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  6. dummi
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    dummi smoking a6

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    my 2p

    fwd were my very first 2 cars and i liked them cos in winter if i got understeer in the snow i could just flick the steering wheel and hit the gas and carry on

    then i got a rwd, more like a tank, and a bit rollipoli but still loved the way it drove, though even in the wet if i hit some water the rear would slide half way across the road one way then the other up to 7 times (it really wasn't a sports car as you may have guessed lol) it still had that great rear wheel drive feel despite it.

    finally on A6Q and i love it, if i need to get anywhere quicck thats the one, i can accelerate around corners at rediculous speeds if only to see what it will take, but it just seems to take whatever i throw at it, its position on the road absolutely solid, absolutely insane they should put G meters in these Q's
    tto put this in perspective my friend took a tight corner in his boxter which he says has incredible grip at 50mph, the Q could do well over that without complaining.

    just 2p of me going on.
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  7. audi_girl
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    audi_girl Active Member

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    I went from the S3 with quattro, to an S2000 with RWD. The car is only 5 weeks old, but I would say this; the quattro is easier to throw around corners, and drive faster through corners as you know it will look after itself, so in day to day stuff probably quicker.

    If driven properly probably the S2000 would be as quick.

    Having said that, the S2000 is more fun to drive, as it does take more driver intervention to control, so even though I might not be as quick going through corners, my input to the drive has a lot more obvious effect.
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  8. RacingTeatray
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    RacingTeatray Freezing in Moscow

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    My A3 Quattro livens up considerably with the ESP turned off. In fact so much so I spun it in quite spectacular fashion on a track day.

    A good rwd like a BMW Z3 MCoupe is always the most fun though if you don't mind a lively rear-end. I learnt to drive in my mother's rwd Volvo 960 Estate and once you've had one of those travelling sideways around a bend on a wet country lane anything else seems easy!

    That said I've never driven one of the techno-fest Impreza/Evo VII type 4wd drive cars which are supposed to be so brilliant so cannot comment on whether they might be better.
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  9. gc48067
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    gc48067 Member

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    Personally I HATE understeer (feels to me like the car is just giving up and you just sit there waiting for it to catch up).

    With FWD generally you will get more understeer as the wheels are doing more - an Integra Type R I had is the only exception I have found to this. Given this I prefer RWD or 4WD with the right setup.

    Lastly so much seems to depend on suspension setup rather than from or rear wheel drive (spongy BMW's for example) that you really have to judge each car by driving it.

    #8
  10. Ess_Three
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    Ess_Three Active Member

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    [Oct 7, 2004]
    [ QUOTE ]
    RacingTeatray said:
    My A3 Quattro livens up considerably with the ESP turned off. In fact so much so I spun it in quite spectacular fashion on a track day.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    I don't understand this comment. How can the car liven up? The driver inputs are the same?

    It's my view that anyone who is continually bringing the ESP on is not driving the car correctly.
    I am able to do stupid things in my S3 by way of corering forces, opposite lock power slides, tail-wagging under braking etc, without the ESP intervening.
    The only time the ESP shows itself is on wet take-offs, or particularly savage dry take-offs.

    Roundabouts, fast corners, slow corners have no ESP activation...and I don't hang about.

    When I first got the S3 I was bringing the ESP on...after years of learing how to drive to the cars strengths, I'm not.
    Slow in, fast ut works very well for an S3...and doesn't cause the ESP to intervene.



    [ QUOTE ]

    That said I've never driven one of the techno-fest Impreza/Evo VII type 4wd drive cars which are supposed to be so brilliant so cannot comment on whether they might be better.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    The Evos are better than the Subarus..the current Subarus understeer far too much...
    Again down to set up rather than the chassis design...although it's my belief that as a road car the earlier cars were more adjustable at more modest speeds.

    The Evos are great if you can drive them properly...by this I mean they work best when thrown into corners with a high degree of blind faith. Not behaviour conducive in maintaining a clean driving license!
    Most people I know however, have no idea how to get the best out of a high spec Evo, let alone the ability to do so...and as such find themselves being follower rather closer than they expect by well set up S3s!
    #9
  11. LYRAC
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    LYRAC Member

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    [Oct 8, 2004]
    Oh Dear what a conversation stopper this one is! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/snore.gif

    Ever since Adam was a boy I have been driving (more years that I care to remember) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cry.gifI have driven them all. By far the best handling car I have driven on the road was a Lotus Elan S4. RWD Big Valve head only 130BHP. But in those days it was a rocket ship circa ’68. Fibreglass body, steel wishbone chassis, Hillman Imp Doughnut drive shaft couplings, Ford Gearbox Triumph Herald Steering and Ford Lotus Twin Cam Engine only 1558cc. The whole car was a “BITSA”. However did Colin Chapman who founded Lotus know how to make a car handle! It was pure magic the handling was as near to neutral as you could get. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/1luvu.gif

    Then came the Mini Cooper ‘S’ pocket rocket FWD totally different setup of the car and new techniques to learn to get the best out of it. More fun! Lift off oversteer was in, too mush lift off and you were looking up your own exhaust pipe! Those were the days!
    Then Ford Escort Twin Cams and Escort BDA’s back to my first love rear wheel drive, but please remember to make RWD handle well one requires a Limited Slip Differential. Now that’s when you learnt to do doughnuts and were able to have the rear end of the car hanging out at some, well to say the least , interesting angles! This was when my rallying career really started to take off. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/devil.gif

    Then came the 4WD all conquering Audi Quattro, yes that’s it, the UR Quattro, Fast, furious and fun, but what a wide car down the country lanes!! Now we have all the derivatives of the wonderful marques, but let’s not loose sight of the fact that our beloved S3 is to say the least a hybrid of all of these. Have we lost sight of the fact that the S3 in NOT technically a 4WD car!! It is mainly FWD and then WHEN WE NEED IT (because were having fun) with the use of our Haldex differential it utilises the 4WD attributes that Audi have given us. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/1luvu.gif

    Yes FWD is good nowadays but all manufacturers “dial in understeer” to their cars to KEEP US SAFE when we find that we are going to fast into a corner whether FWD, RWD or 4WD and the front wheels are forever taking you closed to the NO GO AREA (kerb) we slow down, lift off to retrieve the situation.

    In all of my rallying I have managed to drive most of the great cars from Ford, Mitsibushi, Subaru, Volkswagen and Audi, each have different attributes in their handling and so much so that in 1989 I rallied in a team and we had Two Volkswagen Golf Gti’s cars both set up exactly the same. Two identical cars, so much so that unless you say the registration number they were one of the same but neither handled like the other.
    Therefore it is a matter of choice just like tyres what suits your driving style does not always suit another persons. Suspension geometry is the greatest criteria and then you learn to adapt your style to suit your car.

    Finally, on a rally stage where I teach we used to have Escort Cosworth’s and they were quick, and tail wagging projectiles. Now we have Peugeot 206 Cup cars, out an out FWD Rally Cars and guess what………………………they’re faster round the stage than the Cosworths!!

    So pays your money and take your choice! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif
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  12. Drill
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    Drill Member

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    [Oct 8, 2004]
    Damn, decent conversation /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

    Just a small comment, "but all manufacturers “dial in understeer” to their cars to KEEP US SAFE " I'm more convinced that this is to KEEP THEM Safe (From lawsuits) /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/angel.gif

    /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/beerchug.gif
    #11
  13. RacingTeatray
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    RacingTeatray Freezing in Moscow

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    [Oct 8, 2004]
    Actually before I get castigated for my ham-fisted driving, I have only triggered the ESP once or twice on my car and that was during some spirited driving on packed snow in Switzerland last winter.

    I spun the car because it was a driving tuition day and one of the sessions involved learning to emergency brake during a high speed 90 degree turn (to emulate a real world situation where you come around a corner to find the road blocked by eg a fallen tree). You were encouraged to consistently try to enter the turn faster and at 90 mph the car cried enough and spun rather dramatically. In addition, the instructor insisted the ESP be switched off for the duration of the day as with the ESP on the car was consistently slower and more predictable around the various slalom courses - timing proved it. As we were being taught to catch slides and so on and so forth it made sense. I have never turned it off in day-to-day driving.

    Yes I'll admit an Mcoupe with fresh tyres is a grippy little thing - have you seen the size of those rear boots?? I think the one I experienced had very little tread-depth remaining.

    Fwd can be fun though - I love my Mk2 GTI to bits; it’s a touch lowered and stiffened and is great-hnadling car in my opinion.
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  14. Khufu
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    Khufu Active Member

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    [Oct 8, 2004]
    as was the case with the early TT's?
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  15. DuncS3
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    DuncS3 Member

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    [Oct 10, 2004]
    Glen, David - do you keep ESP on when you are on track?

    Dunc



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  16. DavidR
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    DavidR Active Member

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    [Oct 10, 2004]
    Dunc - yes, in fact its usually a couple of laps before I notice it is still on at all. It will kick in (inconveniently) at the hairpin at knockhil when the tyres slip under accleration which usually gives the game away, but you can drive circuits well with it activated and not lose time. Really the only time ESP comes off is if I am overdriving, sliding through corners or deliberately unbalancing the car for oversteer to amuse passengers.
    #15
  17. Ess_Three
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    Ess_Three Active Member

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    [Oct 11, 2004]
    [ QUOTE ]
    khufu said:
    Glen, can I borrow your butt-dyno. I need to flatter the output of my NA 1.8 A3 (

    [/ QUOTE ]

    My butt-dyno is always available for ego massaging...
    And due to the non too small dimensions of the butt that the dyno is attached to, it can handle exceptional power outputs!

    It's highly accurate...well, about as accurate as some of the dyno plots / quarter mile times out there! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
    #16

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