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Ultimate AWD Sports Sedans

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  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    I know but I am only responding to the Ultimate AWD. Different class as you said.

    My point is that that the AWD allows faster track time due to the better adhesion. All things being equal, weight/ride height, AWD will win the day.

    If Audi does this better it is because they are ahead of BMW from longer experience and across many different model classes.

    I applaud your opinion but let's see if the '07 335xi offers any resistance to your proposed duel.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I believe I was working within the constraints of "Ultimate AWD Sports Sedans" (per the title of this discussion), hence the Porsche has no place here.

    My point is that that the AWD allows faster track time due to the better adhesion. All things being equal, weight/ride height, AWD will win the day.

    The think is, all things are rarely equal, and even if they were I would dispute that statement. First off, AWD is heavy and Audi's arguably superior Torsen based system is even heavier than most. In cornering and braking, that extra weight is very much a detriment.

    Secondly, tires only have so much adhesion on any given surface and when a front tire is asked to both turn and apply power to the pavement, the amount of accelerative forces at any given moment directly and proportionally reduces the ability for the tire to provide lateral grip. So, while two otherwise identical cars, one RWD and one AWD, might have steady state similar cornering abilities, start applying power and the AWD car starts loosing front end cornering ability.

    True there are some cars with AWD that will outperform a competitors’ similar RWD car, however, is it the AWD system that is the differentiating factor or is the AWD car simply a better designed car?

    Regarding the Audi A4 versus the 330i (roughly an apples to apples comparison) the following would most likely be the results at a closed course track:

    1 - BMW 330i SP
    2 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (with Sport Suspension)
    3 - BMW 330i non-SP
    4 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (without Sport Suspension)
    5 - BMW 330xi SP
    6 - Audi A4 3.2 FWD (with Sport Suspension)
    7 - Audi A4 3.2 FWD (without Sport Suspension)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    I have driven an a4 3.2L SP Q on the track, and it had a lot of plow, quite a bit more than a non-SP RWD(*) 3-series. Not sure how this translates to a 330xi, but i wouldn't be so sure that an a4 would win the proposed race.

    I had been toying with the idea of a s60R as a dark horse for the next davemobile, for AWD turbo goodness, but i can't see why i would with the 335xi now coming down the pipeline.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The theoretical placings of the cars is based upon my memory of lots of track test results that I've read over the years. Reality might could well be something different as you suggest. That said, I don't believe I've ever seen a test of a normal (i.e. non-"S") A4 beating an otherwise similar 3-Series around the track.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Dear Shipo,

    I agree your view of all things never really are equal, that is why we seek the best design.

    Your description of the physical forces makes sense except that I would add it depends clearly on the pavement conditions in the corners, not any given surface. If the approach angle is too sever and you are in a car that tends to understeer, AWD should work for the lateral traction of the front tires to help the car get through faster by pulling the car through after the apex.

    Perhaps the design is not here yet in the AWD sedan segment that will top your AWD vs. RWD list but I'll wager change is a coming.

    So, for your ultimate AWD list is:

    1 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (with Sport Suspension)
    2 - Audi A4 3.2 Quattro (without Sport Suspension)
    3 - BMW 330xi SP

    I assume the A4 has a true sport suspension where the Bimmer is lacking.

    Best Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "If the approach angle is too sever and you are in a car that tends to understeer, AWD should work for the lateral traction of the front tires to help the car get through faster by pulling the car through after the apex."

    I've been hearing the whole "Pull the car through..." thing for years, however, I've never seen any scientific or technical explanation confirming that as a fact or debunking it as a myth. Assuming for the moment that that happens to be true, it would seem logical that an AWD car designed as a FWD (Audi in this case) vehicle would benefit from the AWD application much more so than would a properly balanced RWD (BMW in this case) car which would tend to oversteer at the limit.

    Still and all, I believe that your 1, 2, 3 list from above is probably accurate as the A4 Quattro is indeed offered with a true sport suspension.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Dear Shipo,

    R&T did a test of these cars. The list is auto cross test result times:

    Autocross Results
    Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT
    spec.B 54.9 sec.
    Audi A4 2.0 T Quattro
    S-Line 55.2 sec.
    BMW 325xi 56.0 sec.
    Infiniti G35x 56.2 sec.
    Volvo S40 T5 AWD 56.3 sec.
    Mazda Mazdaspeed6 56.7 sec.
    Lexus IS 250 AWD 56.8 sec

    Here are results from an AWD vs. RWD G35 Test:
    Rear Drive vs. All-Wheel Drive: That Is the Question

    For fun, we brought a rear-drive Infiniti G35 to our autocross and compared it with its all-wheel-drive G35x brother, in both wet and dry conditions with VDC yaw control switched off. We assumed the rear-driver would be quicker in the dry, given its ability to hang out its tail and help the driver tighten his line. But in the wet, we were confident the all-wheel-driver would have a tremendous advantage, hooking up better out of turns. Here's what we learned:

    Well, we were wrong on one front, right on the other. Based on group average times on the dry autocross, the awd G35x proved itself faster, surprising us with its rear-biased manners and lapping nearly a second (0.9 sec.) quicker than the rear-drive G35. In the wet the G35x fared even better, 1.3 sec. quicker than the rear-drive G35.

    Credit goes to the electronically controlled awd system, which maintains a rear-drive bias while endowing the car with improved stability. Don't get us wrong, the G35x still liked to hang its tail out, but the driver didn't need to be quite so careful with the throttle to keep the car's back end in check. In the rear-drive G35, the driver had to be far less aggressive with the throttle (and quicker with corrections) to post respectable times. Wet or dry, the awd G35x was far easier to drive quickly.

    The G35x's center diff is responsible. From 0 to 10 mph, its electromagnetic wet clutch splits the torque 25 percent front/75 percent rear for good grip off the line; thereafter, the car is 100-percent rear drive until rear-wheel slip is sensed. Then, the diff can send as much as 50 percent of the power forward. Although other awd systems will produce different results, the G35x proves that all-wheel drive, properly applied, can give you the best of both worlds. — Andrew Bornhop

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Interesting stuff. A few observations:

    - I'm surprised at how well the 325xi did compared to the A4 (in S-Line trim no less) given its lesser suspension and hard and narrow All-Season tires. This is by far the closest test of the two cars I've ever seen.
    - I'm not surprised that the G35x finished behind both the Audi and the BMW, even with it's significant power advantage.
    - I am surprised that the "x" effectively stomped its RWD sibling into the dirt. I've seen a few other tests that showed quite the opposite. Without knowing anything more about the cars and the track, I'm highly suspicious of the rubber on the G35.

    Keep in mind that one of the biggest knocks against the G35 is that it's suspension isn't the greatest. Said another way, I don't think I've ever seen a test where a RWD G35 was capable of beating a fairly anemic E46 325i around a tight track much less a more powerful E90 325i.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Here is some additional feedback on some of the cars and some of the conditions of that test:

    To properly pit these seven all-wheel drivers against one another in a safe environment, we set up a near-1-minute autocross course. Because these cars deliver better traction than a comparable 2-wheel-drive car (see sidebar on rear- vs. all-wheel drive, p. 75), we decided to include a timed wet session after our morning dry running. Best-laid plans sometimes go awry. We quickly found out that the water truck couldn't drop enough wet stuff to achieve standing water, compounded by the extremely abrasive surface of our former Marine Corps landing strip — picture gritty sandpaper. The grippy surface, combined with learning the track more and more as the day went on, resulted in faster times in the wet than in the dry. Maybe we're just unusually gifted rain drivers.... Regardless, the autocross proved an excellent way to find the nuances of each car's handling habits. Stability systems were turned off.
    "The Subaru proved to be just about every editor's fastest way around the course, ahead of the second-place Audi A4 by 0.3 sec. When watching the Subie round the cones, we were struck by how much dive, squat and roll the car exhibited. But that translated into a forgiving nature, important since it doesn't have yaw or traction control. Its extremely potent engine provides tire-shredding thrust out of corners. And, if really provoked, the spec.B can rotate with drop throttle — not a usual trait for an awd'er. A few of us found that if we got the car to oversteer under braking heading into the big sweeper (see track map), it could be 4-wheel drifted under power all the way through. Fun stuff!

    "The Audi A4 — like the Subaru and the Mazdaspeed6 — had the advantage of summer tires, and in the Audi's case they were also the widest of the group. What's interesting here is the completely different manner in which the Audi goes about its business than, say, the Subaru. The A4's sport suspension feels composed no matter what type of transition situation you put it in, but the car also has absolutely no inclination to oversteer. It simply claws and scratches for traction at all times, the counterpoint being that low-speed entry understeer is harder to alleviate than in the Subaru and Infiniti. Because of this nature, it's not as "entertaining" as the Legacy or the G35x. But it sure gets the job done.

    "The BMW was possibly the biggest surprise at the autocross. Not because it didn't win, but because it did so well (third) despite all-season tires and a lack of power compared to the Subie. Precise steering with great feedback helped, as did a superbly confident chassis that could occasionally be persuaded into oversteer, showing its rear-drive nature. The BMW's predictable handling made the course so easy — aided by proper sport seats that hold you firmly in place — that it felt like you were driving slowly. Also interesting to note is that while the Bimmer finished third, the Infiniti and Volvo were nipping at its heels, just 0.2 and 0.3 sec. behind, respectively.

    "If you're more concerned about having fun than posting top lap times, consider the G35x. Its awd system feels the most like a rear-driver of the group. It responds instantly to drop-throttle (a little more so than a few editors preferred) and is by far the easiest with which to invoke oversteer, powersliding its way through the big sweeper in an easy-to-control drift. The G35x can be steered with the throttle more than the others, but because of its size, weight and less crisp steering response, its times suffered. Which the big power from its V-6 (with a fearsome wail) just couldn't make up.

    " While the Volvo seemed to be the odd man out for most of this test, it proved it has some abilities as a sports sedan with a very respectable finish in the autocross. This true test of a car's handling showed the Volvo's best traits are its small-for-the-group size, forgiving handling that will never get you in trouble and a broad spread of power from its turbo-5. But numb steering and too much body roll meant the car became vague in the middle of corners, making it feel less like one piece than the others. The S40 is missing the proper sporting "edge" of cars like the BMW and Audi.

    "The manly version of the Mazda6 proves the saying that "power is nothing without control." Yes, the Mazdaspeed6 has loads of power, but that means little around a tight autocross course where the emphasis is placed on handling. Under-tired for its weight, the Mazdaspeed6 also dives mightily under braking and feels like a larger car than it is. Turn-in is excellent, but there isn't enough steering feel to let you know what's going on after that, unusual for a company that's been turning out cars with great steering of late. A few of us were bogged down by power-steering-pump issues as well, sporadically occuring throughout the day.

    "Despite Toyota's claims to the opposite, we find its VDIM stability system to be, well, a real killjoy. What's worse, there's no switch to turn it off. So we completely defeated it via a special series of actions with both the brake pedal and the e-brake. Then we found the true nature of the car. Turns out, it's quite fun to drive in this mode, exhibiting large doses of drop-throttle and power-on oversteer. Possibly because the car wasn't designed to be driven with VDIM off, the IS 250's tail-out attitude was not as controllable as the others. We did appreciate its good steering feel and solid structure, though it's under-tired, overweight and underpowered for autocrossing. (end)

    I'd like to add that the 330 xi with the added power might surprise even more...you just need to experience it to know.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "We quickly found out that the water truck couldn't drop enough wet stuff to achieve standing water, compounded by the extremely abrasive surface of our former Marine Corps landing strip — picture gritty sandpaper. The grippy surface, combined with learning the track more and more as the day went on, resulted in faster times in the wet than in the dry. Maybe we're just unusually gifted rain drivers...."

    Interesting choice of test tracks. Nearly thirty years ago I spent a fair amount of time around the airfields that are (or were) owned by Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. Given how coarse their pavement usually was, I'm not at all surprised that once learned, drivers had no problem generating very fast wet track lap times. That said, I don't really think the track used for this test is a good representation of how those cars will perform against each other in the real world.

    "I'd like to add that the 330 xi with the added power might surprise even more...you just need to experience it to know."

    I suppose, however, that same car in RWD trim with the SP will impress a whole lot more. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    "I suppose, however, that same car in RWD trim with the SP will impress a whole lot more."

    Agreed until the time comes when the results show to the contrary.

    Best Regards,
    OW
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Thanks for the write-up, circlew. It makes me wonder if i shouldn't wait for the 335xi. :)

    The volvo dealer near me is selling a two-year old CPO s60R for 27.9K (34K miles). Assuming that they will go down on the price, it seems like a good deal for a 300hp AWD car. But based solely on tests i've seen, it's not in the same handling category as the other cars in this topic.
  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    Rumors have been swirling around that there will be a 335xi coupe. That would be perfect for me, as I think the 3er coupe is beautiful, but I wish I could get a twin-turbo version for my next winter car.

    Is it true?

    Thanks.

    '06 Audi A3 2.0T DSG • '05 Audi S4 Cabriolet • '04 Lexus RX330
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    dhanley,

    THat is a great price for 2 years old...trade in on my 330xi is $28K after 3 years. But I agree, handling on my car impressed me.

    Shipo is right, because so far AWD BMW 3 does NOT have the sport suspension and I checked the 335 xi "07 and still no SP will be offered for the ultimate handling.

    But for $40-45K vs $27...drive the 330xi and then the Volvo.

    Handling on the 335 should be similar and with the extra 45 ponies, should be very tempting.

    Regards,
    OW
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    esf: probably--word is that BMW is in love with the 3.0TT and wants to put in in everything they can...

    Circle: i'm less impressed by the extra 45 ponies of the 3.0T than i am by the extra 80 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 1300 RPM. :) I was not enamored by the current generation of BMW sixes with much less torque than HP. The turbo fixes that...

    I'll probably test drive the s60R just so i don't always wonder if i could have saved a lot of money.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    dhanley,

    I agree, my 255HP@230ft/lb is really good enough but the turbo should be a real good upgrade to make the complete package much more impressive and satisfying.

    Let us know what you think after your drive in the s60r.

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    OW
  • I have found that you need to take these car mag tests with a couple of grains of salt. They never report any serious conditions the car has that might be important to you. i think they are paid to write the stories by the car mfrs. I have seen them make comparisons between cars that really can't be compared because they vastly different in power and handling. this just makes the car they want to look good, look good. In other cases, the cars they use are specfically "tuned" for them so they will come out on top.

    regards,
    musicblue
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Not to get off track since this forum is about AWD "sedans", but I respectfully disagree with your previous claims about the Carrera 4S. Shipo pointed out the offsetting wieght gain of going to AWD.

    From my personal experience, the 997 Carrerra 2S is noticably quicker than the 4S, due to the 4's added weight and less efficient AWD drive train. And, at least to the levels I was comfortable pushing it, the 2S was more nimble than the 4s on dry pavement. Even my sales manager, a former Porsche factory engineer and racing team member, claims the 2S trumps the 4S in everything other than crazy maneuvers in the rain or snow, for which he prescribes a Cayenne.

    Among the Porsche purists I've met, many would prefer a lighter RWD Turbo to the standard 3,600 lb AWD version. They would still claim the king of the track is the RWD, lightweight, GT3.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Habitat1,

    I agree with you on the weight differential and your experience and Shipo's are correct when it comes to the RWD vs. AWD in the same model, Porsche or BMW.

    But my point was that the ultimate AWD coupe could be the 4S. I was checking out the Audi RS4 also which could be the ultimate AWD sedan.

    As technology keeps marching on, do not be surprised if track times start favoring the AWD concept. I like the idea of powersliding through the chicanes with the confidence all 4 wheels are helping you through!

    Best Regards,
    OW
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hee hee hee, pretty funny. The Subaru is just about the cheapest one on that list and took the others to school. Only the Mazda costs less nowadays.

    I love track tests like that. All AWD models, pretty closely matched, too. Results can often surprise you.

    Oh, and the funny thing is the Subaru Legacy GT spec.B got some important upgrades for 2007 - a Torsen rear differential and the 6-speed manual from the STI, both which would arguably make it quicker around that track.

    -juice
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Here is my "end of the day" nomination: Lancer EVO and Audi RS4...very close in comparo tests, way different price.

    Really it's about spartan vs. luxury here.

    I'll take the Audi but the Evo is a damn nice machine!

    Regards,
    OW
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Power is transmitted via a five-speed manual gearbox to a standard all-wheel-drive system that has a 50/50 front/rear torque split. The transfer case uses a bevel gear differential and viscous coupling to feed torque to an open-type front and a plate-type limited-slip rear differential.

    The Lancer Evolution might look like a tuner sedan, but as soon as you get behind the wheel, it's apparent that it's the work of engineers with four rally world titles to their credit. The relationship among pedals, steering wheel, seat, and shifter is just right. The clutch is smooth and fluid, and the shifter has short throws and a sweet, easy action. The Evolution is easy to place, and outward visibility is excellent.

    Actually, pretty much everything about the driving experience is excellent. Around the twisting Pattaya track in Thailand, it was a serious device. Mitsubishi claims that the 0-to-60-mph time is just under 5.0 seconds, the standing quarter-mile takes just 13.8 seconds, and the top speed is around 155 mph—numbers we can easily believe. In achieving that performance, though, the engine isn't the usual turbocharged light switch, revealing instead a linear power delivery on par with a much larger-capacity engine. From 3000 rpm, throttle response is scintillatingly sharp, and the engine rapidly zings past 7000 rpm. It doesn't sound particularly memorable from the inside, but the turbo's whistling and chirruping are suitably sporty.

    Full rear view of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
    The single most impressive feature on the car is how idiot-proof it is, how easy it is to drive really fast. You don't need to have been to a racing school or to have learned to tame high-speed oversteer to go really, really fast in an Evolution. Cornering grip is outstanding—Mitsubishi claims lateral grip of 0.97 to 0.99 g—and the handling balance depends on your driving style. Go for the slow in, fast out approach, and you will have a little initial understeer followed by reassuring neutrality as you get on the gas. Gutsy drivers can throw it in way too hot and rotate the tail with either a dab of the brake pedal or a huge throttle lift before launching out of the corner as they put the power down. (We don't recommend this approach for the street . . . ) The all-wheel-drive system is pretty seamless, even in very tight turns where the initial understeer disappears as you squeeze on the power.

    The brakes are fabulous; the ABS is perfectly tuned for track use, with no discernible wheel lock. The Evo even rides well, with impressive damping over Pattaya's evil curbs, although it is stiffly sprung. The car's only weakness is the steering, which is very accurate and direct but lacking in ultimate, Porsche-type feel. At highway speeds, the Evo is refined and doesn't suffer the low-speed torpor that afflicts the WRX.

    If you want to go obscenely fast cross-country with minimal effort and still have a car that is practical family transport, the Evolution is the real deal. Until the WRX STi goes on sale, there's nothing for less than $45,000 that will cover ground as fast on secondary roads. If you want a car that shouts about you and your status in life, the Evolution isn't for you; but if you want a car for speed, then it is. The amazing thing is that it's a Mitsubishi—and even more amazing, it's based on the Lancer, a car that hardly sets our hearts aflutter. It's probably about time the Japanese automaker had an image car, because its current vibe is dowdy and dull. The Evolution should help to change that.
  • esfesf Posts: 1,020
    Thanks, dhanley. I'd be very excited if it came out within two years. Knowing BMW, it will.

    However, there are four new models in the mix that will shake the exec. coupe segment up. BMW has always been virtually alone here. G35 coupe wasn't nice enough, CLK was too nice, A4 only came in convertible.

    New models, in order of introduction:

    2008 A5. This is a very significant car for Audi, as it's the first on their new modular platform system. We've heard the hype- no nose-heaviness, seven-speed DSG, rear-biased quattro, no more VW-based Audis... I'm excited to see if this all comes true.

    2008 G35 Coupe? This could come out before the A5, but I don't think so. Promises to be nicer.

    2009 Mercedes CLK. This will probably be around the same price as it is now, but the others have caught up (almost), so it's not too expensive any more. Hopefully it will give Mercedes a more powerful standard V-6 to stay with the competition and close the gap on the overpriced (but hugely fast) CLK550.

    ???? Lexus IS Coupe. All I hear are rumors. Maybe it'll actually come out.

    As this is an AWD forum, I think the most significant to us will be the A5. And I honestly do think that the new A4/A5 will be the first all-out 3 Series fighter ever. G35 wasn't refined enough, IS wasn't sporty enough, C-Class just wasn't enough, but the A4 always got "close". I have a feeling the new one, on the new platform and with promised new engines (like a new V-8 in the S5 that is supposed to debut on the 2010 A8), will be the first in a crowd of pretenders.

    '06 Audi A3 2.0T DSG • '05 Audi S4 Cabriolet • '04 Lexus RX330
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,364
    Good stuff, esf...I will test drive the 335xi and the A5 when they arrive.

    I like it!
  • that they still offer a stick on the new MLP cars. Do you think it will be here in 07, as an 08?
  • voxboyvoxboy Posts: 30
    Can anyone enlighten me on this? Consumer Reports gives the Volvo S60 FWD an above-average reliability rating, while it gives the AWD model a below-average reliability rating. Logic dictates that this gap in customer satisfaction is 100% AWD-related. But is that truly the case? What sort of problems should I expect and how severe and/or frequent are the issues that arise? I need to understand if the AWD S60 is going to be a reliability headache.
  • First I'd heard of anything like this. For what it's worth, my '04 R just turned 23K and has developed no AWD-related issues whatsoever. Of course, on the R it's standard and therefore an integral part of a pretty sophisticated performance-tuned suspension system, so I suppose it's always possible that there could be problems that arise from the bolt-on nature of AWD on the "regular" S60? Under-engineered, perhaps? Will be interested to see if anyone in this group has any experience with this.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    In general I think you can count on a Volvo to be very durable, i.e. last a long time, but I think it might need more repairs than average along the way.

    For some reason friends of mine that have had them gave them up because of little things that kept adding up, often electrical things.

    -juice
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    Well, i just placed an order on a 335i. I'll be euro-delivering it. Thanks for all the ideas, guys!
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