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Ultimate AWD Sports Sedans

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  • I cruised through an awful lot of the posts in this thread and need to ask for advice. I am in the market for a new car, my first actually since 1995.Since I live in NYC and anticipate making frequent NE highway runs (especially to Lake Placid), minimal local, I assumed an AWD (that also gets respectable fuel economy, high 20s) to be the best bet. The cars I am soon to test drive are the Lexus IS250, BMW 328xi, MB C300 luxury and maybe the Audi A4 V6 Quattro. I was hoping to get a coupe, but I am not blown away by the 328 or 335. Do I even NEED an AWD or can I get by with a FWD, like maybe the new Accord Hybrid? Tnx much Keith
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I met Christini himself. Drove up to their HQ in Philly, had lunch with him and one of his co-workers. Very cool small business with a strong engineering focus.

    They almost reminded me of what the Wright brothers must have been like way back when.

    He had one of those bikes up on a stand, and demonstrated the AWD system. So cool!

    There was no point test riding the bikes because they are RWD unless you slip, then power shifts to the front wheel.

    Very cool experience. I shot a video of it, let me see if I still have it....
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I found a 5.7MB .MOV file if you want it, but it's not the one I filmed myself. It shows the bike in operation, AWD on and off.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Based upon the criteria you've set forth I wouldn't suggest that you spend you money on any of the cars you've listed. It sounds more like you should be in the market for a Toyonda Camcord V6, or optionally their bigger siblings the Lexus ES350 or the Acura TL.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • dan12dan12 Posts: 114
    The 328/335 sedans drive just like the coupes, so if you didn't like the coupe I wouldn't waste my time with the sedan. The A4 is a softer ride, which you might like. I personally like (and own) the 335 sedan because I found that driving the A4 was too bland. The MB is similar to the A4 in my opinion. It's not a bad thing if you value a comfy ride over steering feel and handling. I haven't driven the Subary Outback, but I would consider that too as an AWD vehicle. It seems like a good value, although it comes up a bit short on the luxury aspects. The IS250 looks nice inside and out but I never bothered to drive it since my head hits the roof on that even in the lowest seat position. If you're under 6 feet, it could be a good choice.
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    Like everything else, "it depends". Not all winter tires are created equal. I've driven some that were absolutely lousy on dry pavement, and I've driven some that were so good on dry pavement that it was difficult to tell the difference between them and a set of good all-season rubber. More often than not these days, winter tires rival or even surpass all-season rubber in dry road characteristics.

    Just curious but what winter tires would those be and how ell do they perform in actual snow and ice like we get in New England? My area gets a fair amount of snow locally and they don't do the best job of clearing the roads for a few days after a major storm.
    I'm always on the lookout for a tire that does well in all conditions, so far the Nokians are the best in the winter but a bit squirmy in the dry. A higher performance tire that is actually good in snow, ice and dry winter pavement would be pretty good. I'm curious as to what brand you would recommend?
  • Tnx for the advice Dan. What I actually meant about the coupe was more the styling of it, I haven't ridden in one yet. Given that I assume I am going to do a decent amount of highway driving, what would your suggestion be then?
  • Tnx Shipo. Money aside, is AWD one of those features that marketers play up to the ignorant masses (like myself in thsi case), but in reality, is useless? Otherwise, even if it only comes in handy on an infrequent basis, I don't mind paying extra for the peace of mind.

    Keith
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Is it useless? No, not exactly, however, given the driving that you've described I'm having a difficult time trying to figure out when you're going to take advantage of the extra accelerative traction. Keep in mind that AWD adds weight to a car and as such it will take longer to slow itself from any given speed in any given set of conditions and will not have the same nimble turning characteristics in many conditions.

    Keep us posted.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • dan12dan12 Posts: 114
    You don't like the coupe styling? Most people buy it because of that. I opted for the sedan because it's much more practical, it's cheaper, and it drives the same. Besides, my wife wouldn't let me get a coupe. :)

    What would I recommend? Well, first I guess you have to decide on AWD because that limits your choices. I like AWD simply because in the mountains I don't have to worry about putting chains on, which is a pain. I used to have a Jeep for that, now I will use my wife's SUV since I didn't get AWD on my 335. If you're not going into the mountains, then you may not need it. Having said that, if I thought I would have to drive on snow or ice, I would opt for AWD. It may or may not help, but I would rather have all the help I can get in those kinds of conditions. That's just me.

    Once you figure out the AWD question, you need to decide what you like. If you want to be really comfortable for long trips, I would look at a Lexus ES350 or an Acura TL. The Audi A4 or the MB can be good choices too, although they're not as reliable for the long term. Try a 328xi also, but I think that is a fairly tight ride which you may not like. I personally find the seats with the sports package incredibly comfortable in the 328/335, but you will feel bumps on the road which may get annoying on long trips.

    If you don't *love* any of these cars, save yourself some money and look at a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. They are perfectly good and comfortable cars that have everything you need and will do the job for you. If you're gonna pay $35K+ for a car, it better put a smile on your face every time you drive it. If it doesn't, there are plenty of cheaper cars that are quite good.
  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    You can also look at the Subaru Legacy, it's a nice car, not up to the level of an A4 or a BMW but it's AWD system is tough to beat.
    That said if you run good snows on a FWD you will be fine 90% of the time. By GOOD snow tires I mean Nokian tires the RSi's or at minimum the WR.
    I have an older Subaru WRX and it has Nokian WR's all around for the winter even with AWD.
    For any of the FWD in snow and ice the RSi is a safer bet for when it's really nasty. These are great tires especially with AWD.
    Here is a link
    http://www.nokiantires.com/en/DEFAULT.ASPX
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,354
    My recommendation is AWD for you if you are not a driving enthusiast and safety is utmost on your list. The extra grip is awesome in the rain/snow/ice. If you said you vacation in Virginia on South, you could opt out of all wheel drive.

    Put another way, if I was in your place, 328xi for me (you may become an enthusiast, although some would say "with training wheels :shades: ). Coupe for 2 sedan for 3 or more! The coupe is a beauty, IMHO.

    My recommended manufacturer is Subaru if you can't swing the bimmer.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Safety?

    Ummm, I beg to differ. Virtually everyone on this board would be better served (and have a safer car) by buying a RWD car and a set of winter wheels and tires. To take it one step further, investing in a driving class would make the combination of the car and the driver safer still. With the above in mind, the only significant advantage that an AWD equipped car would have (like for like tires and drivers) when the roads are slippery is accelerating from a dead stop and climbing a steep hill. The RWD car would stop better and in most cases turn better too.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Virtually everyone on this board would be better served (and have a safer car) by buying a RWD car and a set of winter wheels and tires.

    But not as easy to control as an AWD vehicle with winter tires.

    With the above in mind, the only significant advantage that an AWD equipped car would have (like for like tires and drivers) when the roads are slippery is accelerating from a dead stop and climbing a steep hill.

    That is the easiest, most obvious one, and given how well they clear streets in my area, a very important one.

    The RWD car would stop better and in most cases turn better too.

    Stopping is based on the co-efficient of friction. Two cars of the same weight and same tires should stop in roughly the same distance.
    I disagree with the turning thing. The whole idea is if you give a driven wheel too much to do, it transfers the power to another wheel. The Legacy corners much better in the snow than the Accord (which is FWD) or the Volvo (RWD).
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,354
    Based on my experience with this AWD 330xi, it is safer in my opinion, than the RWD version. With the same tires, the 335i lit up the traction control several times in the rain taking the exact same turns with the same driver and exact same tires and speed. Yes, the TT's are a difference but traction is lost easier. That is my experience. BTW, it rains in the summer so snows would only help, well, when it snows. At the end of the day, it serves me well.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "But not as easy to control as an AWD vehicle with winter tires."

    That is a highly debatable statement. That said, most folks who opt for AWD do so instead of opting for RWD and winter tires. There are plenty of studies that prove that a RWD car shod with winter tires is far more safe than an otherwise identical AWD car shod with All-Season rubber.

    "Stopping is based on the co-efficient of friction. Two cars of the same weight and same tires should stop in roughly the same distance."

    Yes, however, since the AWD variant of every car now on the road that has AWD as an option weighs more, it will not stop as fast, regardless of the conditions. Add the disparity in traction between a RWD car with winter rubber compared to an AWD one with factory tires and the advantage for the RWD car is even more significant.

    "I disagree with the turning thing. The whole idea is if you give a driven wheel too much to do, it transfers the power to another wheel."

    That kind of actually proves my point. In the case of the RWD car, the wheels asked to turn the car are responsible for one thing, turning the car. The wheels that are responsible for motivating the car also have one thing to do, motivate the car.

    "The Legacy corners much better in the snow than the Accord (which is FWD)..."

    No surprise there. Apples to oranges on one hand, and an understeering FWD sled on the other.

    "...or the Volvo (RWD)."

    No surprise there either. Once again you're talking apples to oranges.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Based on my experience with this AWD 330xi, it is safer in my opinion, than the RWD version. With the same tires, the 335i lit up the traction control several times in the rain taking the exact same turns with the same driver and exact same tires and speed."

    A couple of things:
    1) Sorry, not buying about the "exact same turns with the same driver and exact same tires and speed" comment. Why? First off, if you weren't accelerating then the traction control light would never have lit, so, that means that you were accelerating. Like it or not, I seriously doubt that the vast majority of individuals who regularly drive a 330xi can exactly modulate the throttle pedal of a 335i (SP or not) to deliver exactly the same amount of thrust at any given moment. Said another way, I suspect that the 335i was developing more power on those turns.
    2) Who cares of the traction control light reported that it was engaged anyway? All that means is that the system detected inside rear wheel slip on the aforementioned turns and used the brakes on that one wheel to force the power to transfer to the outside rear wheel. It is simply a different means of transferring the power (one that I am not necessarily a fan of BTW, I much prefer an LSD rear end).

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Yes, however, since the AWD variant of every car now on the road that has AWD as an option weighs more, it will not stop as fast, regardless of the conditions.

    Thats because it wasn't deigned in. A Subaru Legacy sedan is 3325# while the Accord EX is 3349#.

    Add the disparity in traction between a RWD car with winter rubber compared to an AWD one with factory tires and the advantage for the RWD car is even more significant.

    If you aren't using the same tires, its not an apples to apples comparison.

    That kind of actually proves my point. In the case of the RWD car, the wheels asked to turn the car are responsible for one thing, turning the car. The wheels that are responsible for motivating the car also have one thing to do, motivate the car.

    But in an AWD car, that powering force is split between more contact patches. If one contact patch is needed to turn, then the power can go to the other, shifted to help the car turn (like the Honda SH or just about any active diff car)

    "...or the Volvo (RWD)."

    No surprise there either. Once again you're talking apples to oranges.

    How so? Both mid-size cars, about the same amount of power, about the same weight, the Volvo had snows, the Subaru didn't at first but got them the same winter.

    Actually, the reason the Volvo got snows is the vehicle was undrivable without them.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,354
    Shipo, yes I was accelerating but not excessively and not only did the light illuminate put the car slipped quite a bit as well until the nanny engaged. With the 330xi, you can aggressively accelerate and it seems the front wheels stabilize the car during/through the turn to prevent the loss of traction. Pretty normal spirited turns with 2 different outcomes. Bottom line, to me, the difference in stability is quite apparent, more power or not.

    Said an other way, the more power the more you need to harness that power and I suspect AWD helps to deliver the goods, specifically if all other things remain equal.

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Thats because it wasn't deigned in. A Subaru Legacy sedan is 3325# while the Accord EX is 3349#."

    Oh come on, that's just silly. If the Suby had its AWD components removed it would be lighter, being "designed in" is irrelevant.

    "If you aren't using the same tires, its not an apples to apples comparison."

    Agreed, however, the vast majority of folks who opt for AWD do so because they think it is a substitute for buying winter tires, and as such it IS a viable comparison.

    "But in an AWD car, that powering force is split between more contact patches. If one contact patch is needed to turn, then the power can go to the other, shifted to help the car turn (like the Honda SH or just about any active diff car)"

    So what you're saying is that an AWD car will turn itself into a RWD car when turning otherwise the front wheels will lose traction. I say, "Why bother?" and start with a RWD car to begin with.

    "How so? Both mid-size cars, about the same amount of power, about the same weight, the Volvo had snows, the Subaru didn't at first but got them the same winter."

    This is silly too. I mean come on, my 1970 Challenger was about the same size and weight as my 2002 5-Series BMW, had about the same amount of power, both had manual transmissions and both were RWD. That said, they sure as hell didn't drive the same way, on the snow or off.

    The point of this discussion (or at least what my intent was when I first posted) is to suggest that a person would be safer driving winter tire shod RWD variant of say a 3-Series as opposed to the AWD variant with the factory All-Season tires.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
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