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FWD, AWD, RWD and the Luxury Performance Sedans

tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
edited March 14 in Acura
So as not to get too far off topic in the LPS forum, let's discuss the virtues of these drivetrain layouts as they pertain to luxury performance sedans here.

I will start by saying that to be taken serious in the LPS market, you must at least offer a RWD platform. AWD is great, but a front-biased/primarily front drive AWD system (as in the Acura RL) is no substitute for good ol' RWD. A 50/50 split doesn't cut it either (as with Audi's new A6). For driving pleasure, it's got to be RWD or a minimum of rear-biased/primarily rear drive AWD.

Counter-points? Opinions? Insults?


  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I think AWD is ok, but FWD isn't - for this class. Audi does offer a V8 something Acura doesn't which I think makes all the difference in the world to some folks.

    Now when Audi updates the Quattro system in the A6 to that of the RS4 then they'll have that all-important 40/60 rwd bias.

  • calidavecalidave Posts: 156
    I just asked a similar question in a more active thread:

    Maybe there will be more interest over there.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    I think that in this segment, the cars are predominantly too heavy, too long, too saddled by electronic nannies, typically equipped with automatic transmissions, and tuned from the factory to understeer at the limit.

    These aren't cars you take to the track, and where on public roads can you begin to approach the limits of a 300+ HP car wearing 10" wide performance tires?

    With a few exceptions, I think the majority of people buying these cars care about how fast they accelerate in a straight line, how comfortable/quiet/feature laden they are, and the perceived social status they represent.

    I really don't think it makes a difference what the drivetrain layout is.

    Just my $0.02
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    You might want to check out the Luxury Performance Sedans forum. Apparently it makes a HUGE difference in which wheels are driven. ;) Most of the folks there and in this class seem to prefer RWD.
  • mnrep2mnrep2 Posts: 200
    Ok I'll bite ;) One of the reasons I bought the G3x was because of the 100% rwd bias of it's awd. It handles like a rwd sports sedan until slip is detected. The BMW X series, Audi and, Volvo all split torque distribution by some ratio, front to back at all times. The Infiniti is unique with their application of AWD and I love the way it works!

    Fedlawman, before you start with the "its a overweight behemoth", yes the awd g is 180lbs heavier than the rwd only version. I do not track this car so I wasn't buying it to take to Road America or to AutoX meets.

    In my opinion and on the roads that I drive, the awd version of the G35 is the Best application of awd in a entry level performance sedan :D

    Flame suit ON
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Flame suit ON

    Gee, what's worse?

    1) Donning your Nomex and weathering a bazillion flames.
    2) Donning your Nomex and sweating to death with nary a flame in sight.

    Sorry, couldn't resist. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    This discussion has no categories - that's why it's not attracting any attention. Tell me on which vehicle searches this discussion should appear and consider it done! I can go up to nine different ones.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Luxury Performance Sedans
    Entry-level Luxury Performance Sedans
    Performance Cars (if there is such a forum)
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Needs to be specific vehicles. I can list up to 9. Then this discussion will appear anytime someone searches for any of those specific vehicles.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Oh, I see.

    Acura RL (2005+)
    Audi A6 (2005+)
    BMW 5-series (530(x)i/550i)
    Cadillac STS/CTS
    Infiniti M35(x)/45
    Lexus GS/IS
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Okey-doke - you got it!

    I had to pick a specific model for each Lexus. I can change it if you want, but I can't add any more.

    Have at it!
  • jclumpnjclumpn Posts: 3
    Hey- have really appreciated the info on the forum.

    I am planning to purchase either a used Lexus IS-300 or a new IS-250 AWD soon. Live in Chicago, the windy and at times snowy city, and wondered how the old RWD models handle in snow/ slippery conditions vs the AWD now available. Anyone have experience with this, advice? Thx much!
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    I can't say if it's true across the board for the IS300, but I personally saw one dead in the "water" during a big ice storm a few years back. It was on a slight incline at a traffic light. When the light turned green, all it did was sit there spinning the wheels.

    Keep in mind any of a few things could have been true. The guy could've had traction control turned off, it could have had summer tires, the tires could've been nearly bald, etc.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    With age comes accrual of knowledge, experience and wealth, generally.

    The wealth part allows us access to the Luxury vehicle market and our long driving history/experience has clearly taught us that RWDs are inherently safer than FWD and/or front bias AWD, or even symmetrical AWD.

    Knowledge comes into play when we read about things like the fact that Cadillac used an over-running clutch to prevent loss of control on their high torque Northstar equipped FWD luxury BOATS. And we cannot miss the fact that the Cadillac line is now predominantly RWD.

    Then there is the overall move to RWD and/or rear biased AWD throughout the industry to consider. And now there is these new AWD systems that dynamically allocate lead/lag engine torque away from the front when the circumstances dictate that the front tires' traction coefficient is best allocated to directional control.

    Speaking for myself, I grew up in an era before FWD was even available. That allowed me the experience, as FWD became available, of watching others of my age and era discover that "learned" RWD responses nor human instinctive responses did not work all that well with FWD.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    On a RWD vehicle the only thing traction control is good for is to let you know just how slippery the roadbed is, might be. I don't know of any case wherein it wasn't necessary to turn off the traction control in my LS400 in order to get it moving in the circumstances you describe.

    Only the driver can develop the proper "feel" to interact with and feather the throttle at the proper time and level to apply just enough torque to the roadbed without wheelspin/slip.

    And then there are those admittedly rare times that a little wheelspin/slip can be of great help.
  • neil5neil5 Posts: 118
    Don't forget Avalon 2005+
  • carfastcarfast Posts: 1
    I have a related question, but with respect to older cars.

    Context: I already have a nice 'summer' car, a RWD convertible. However, I live in a hilly part of NJ where we do have ~15 days/year with snowy/icy conditions in the winter. I need a car to drive ~6k miles/year including through the winter, and am considering a used car from mid-1990's.

    Many cars of the vintage I am considering have ABS but are RWD. My question is, how much of a difference is exists between:
    (1) FWD sedan, e.g. 1996-97 Audi A4
    (2) RWD sedan (or coupe) WITH SNOW TIRES, e.g. MB 320E from 1994-95, BMW 6 series from 1985-1989
    (3) AWD sedan, e.g. 1996-97 Audi A4 Quatro, BMW 325 ix from 1988-91, MB 320E 4Matic from 1994-1995

    I'm hoping that the consensus is that while (3) and (1) are better than (2), the difference isn't large, and a careful driver of a RWD car with snow driver should be fine - but I'll wait for your expertise! Thanks,

    - carfast
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    3a: FWD "based" AWD are often front torque biased making then just as dangerous in/on adverse roadbed conditions as an actual FWD.

    3b: RWD "based" AWD which are often torque biased to the rear leaving the majority of the front tires' roadbed adhesion factor available for life-saving directional control.

    Look at the new Acura RDX SUV and RL sedan for a virtually perfect implementation of a modern day AWD system.

    Or the GS AWD that runs a close second.

    Subaru keeps advertising "Safety of AWD?...??

    I ask you ALL, what or when is AWD safer or a safety factor.

    Does FWD or even a 4X4 do anything more than get you up and going, moving, on a slippery surface, resulting in a false sense of security for many owners??

    Isn't stearing, the ability to maintain directional control of the vehicle and/or quickly coming to a stop a lot more important..??
  • "Does FWD or even a 4X4 do anything more than get you up and going, moving, on a slippery surface, resulting in a false sense of security for many owners??"

    I am sorry, but you seem to be stating your opinion rather than facts. The fact is that an AWD has engine power connected to all its wheels. Hence, it allows engineers to design additional features like anti-spin, anti-rollover etc. The BMW X_Drive is a perfect example. there is even a video on it on their website. In the context of a BMW, it is capable of rotating a single wheel more than the others when it encounters unequal spin in order to ensure proper steering. This has been designed to a point that the car does this until you are driving in the direction pointed by your steering column. The Acura RL has a similar patented system, as I am sure the GS-300 would too. These are FACTS !!!! I'm sorry, but I'd rather put my faith in the world's finest engineers than your opinion.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    "3a: FWD "based" AWD are often front torque biased making then just as dangerous in/on adverse roadbed conditions as an actual FWD."

    The language suggests that this is a quote from somewhere. Is it? Or are you an automotive engineer? I'm not being sarcastic, just wondering where the strong sense of conviction is coming from.

    What do you (or what does the author of the quote) mean by "adverse roadbed conditions"?

    Is the Audi Quattro in this category?
This discussion has been closed.