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FWD, AWD, RWD and the Luxury Performance Sedans

13

Comments

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Actually, the emphasis here is the luxury performance sedans - we'll leave it as it is for now. ;)

    Happy New Year everyone!! :D
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    I have seen a lot of new 5 and 3 series cars aound town (Central NJ) and they were all the xi 335/535xi versions...you'd think we were deep in the snow belt or something! Do those owners know something I don't?

    The thing is, the buying public (non-enthusiasts) are voting for the traction upgrade, particularly on the high-end sedans as it becomes an available option. If you add the pending CUV/SAV/?AV craze to the list of AWD vehicles in the US and Europe, this trend continues unabated.

    Oh well, there is still the Lexus top end hold out...Infinity,Cadillac, Lincoln have crumbled to AWD options and Mercedes long ago. Even Porsche, king of the sports car went mad awhile back! Audi and Subaru really led the way as far as sedans go.

    Will it ever go back to strictly RWD?

    Happy New Year and Best Regards to All.
    OW
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Will it ever go back to strictly RWD?

    No - and it shouldn't. There are a lot of folks out there that want/need AWD and if I were to move back to my former hometown, with 100+ inches of snow a year, I'd test drive both a 535i and ix before I made up my mind.

    If there is any drivetrain configuration that should get the axe it is FWD for anything other than small econoboxes. My TL 6-speed would be a great car with RWD, but the FWD drivetrain is a detriment to my driving enjoyment. I suspect it will be the last FWD car I ever own.

    By the way, I just got the new issue of Porsche's "Christophorus" magazine with the new 911 GT2 on the cover. Pretty amazing. 530hp, 501 ft-lbs of torque in a RWD chassis that comes in with a curb weight of 3,175 lbs. It doesn't beat the AWD's 0-60 time, but the early test track times around Nurburgring put it way ahead of the Turbo, the Nissan GT-R and within a second or two of the all time production car record holder, the $450,000 Carerra GT. It certainly appears that Porsche still considers RWD the way to go in a pure sports car.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    I absolutely agree regarding pure sports and rwd/MT, no-nannies, please. I read up on the GT-2 and you can use it as a daily driver to boot! Awesome but since it will be a limited edition, I'll bet the MSRP will skyrocket in the re-sale arena.

    I understand it's not good to invest in autos but it is enticing to be able to get some excitement and a little earnings at the same time. The GT-2, like the F-430, are my rendition of going for broke and smiling all the way! When I retire, I'd like to spend half my time on the course and half at the track...sans AWD!!!

    Regards,
    OW
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Well here it is, the second day of January, and our town has already had almost 50" of snow this season. In fact, most of the towns in our area (including ours) eclipsed the previous mark for snow in December, a mark that (in every case) has stood for 131 years (December 1876), and by a healthy ten to fifteen percent margin too I might add.

    All in all, I have not seen a single snow fall since we've lived up here that would justify the expense, weight and loss of responsiveness of an AWD system. That said, the poor folks who live on the east side of our street are traction challenged with even a dusting, and in almost every case, they NEED a vehicle equipped with AWD to even have a chance of getting up their driveways. I say a "chance" because even that is often not enough. A couple of weeks back one of our neighbors came home late and in spite of the fact that the plow had already cleared his driveway (it snowed an inch or two after the plow came), and in spite of the fact that he took his usual running start, he only made it half way up with his winter tire shod Audi A6 Quattro before he lost traction and slid some twenty feet back down, finally coming to a stop completely sideways.

    If I lived on that side of the street, I'd be driving AWD cars as well, that said, my driveway has only a 9% grade and presents no challenge for any car with a decent set of tires, regardless of drivetrain layout.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    Thanks for this update and there are no panaceas for any wheel drive...I understand you can get a heated driveway to help with ice but for long driveways, I doubt the expense is worth it. I also do not think it would be that effective in 1 inch/hour snow at below 10 degrees F.

    I hope the rest of the season bodes well for your neighbors. Does anyone by you use tire chains? With AWD, I would assume that somehow this would work well for certain untenable snow/ice conditions. Perhaps your A6 neighbor can use this option.

    Regards,
    OW
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    If I lived on that side of the street, I'd be driving AWD cars as well

    Haven't the people on that side of the street heard of a cheaper alternative to AWD? It's called a snow shovel? I can't imagine getting AWD not because of the streets and highways, but because of my own driveway. :confuse:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    You haven't seen these driveways. Two hundred feet and easy thirty degree incline.

    The couple that got their Audi stuck are natives of Boston and Manila. When they were house shopping he, being from Boston and all, said, "No way, not that house. We'll never get up that driveway in the winter time." She, being from Manila and having no understanding of what snow can do to a driveway said, "Oh yes, it's either THAT house or Manila." ;-)

    They have a Jeep, a 4WD Dodge Ram, an AWD Volvo and the Audi A6 Quattro, and all four cars have problems getting up that driveway.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    It's a far cry from Manilla but forget a sedan for that house...

    image

    Regards,
    OW
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Two hundred feet and easy thirty degree incline.

    An AWD "car" wouldn't help much. I don't know of any that can handle a 30+ degree angle of approach. If the driveway is really that steep, they would be bottoming out coming and going and leaving bumpers and other car parts on the street. Even the average crossover SUV couldn't handle that angle of approach.

    Not to challenge your 30 degree incline estimate, but to put that in some perspective, 15 percent (not degrees) is the steepest commercial driveway angle allowed by building codes in my area. And it causes enough problems. When we were developing a condo project, I checked out another project that had an underground garage that everybody complained about. It had been built prior to the current code and was estimated to be at least 25 percent. I measured it with my engineer and it was 80 feet in horizontal length, dropping 15 feet. That's "only" 18.8 percent. Thirty degrees would be a 58% slope (rise would be equal to 1/2 of the total length). In your neighbors 200 feet long driveway, it would have to rise 100 feet for it to be a 30 degree slope. I've seen those kind of slopes, but they are usually marked with black (or double black) diamonds. And even then, a 1,500 foot vertical drop on a 3,000 foot long slope would be a challenge for me in my younger days.

    The only vehicle I would own in that situation would be a Range Rover. A BMW "xi" anything would be a joke.

    Perhaps you meant a 30 percent slope?

    P.S. Trigonometry aside, it sounds like people in your area are getting good exercise. ;)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A guestimate though it is, I'm sticking with my 30 degree slope (I'm betting that it's at least 25 degrees and might even be a bit steeper than 30). True it isn't that steep right from the street, however, it ramps up to that intensity pretty quickly.

    I'll see if I can't stack a few bricks and cross them with a level and get a picture, those driveways are absolutely insane.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Will it ever go back to strictly RWD?

    I hope not. I drive an RL in DC where I live and have rarely needed the AWD it offers. However, I just returned from Nebraska where I was driving a rental RWD 300M. On Christmas Day, I had to spend the night in a motel because on the straight-as-an-arrow, flat-as-a-pancake Interstate, I was sliding around. FWD and AWD cars were passing me with no problem. No way would I ever own another RWD!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Uhhh, the 300M is a FWD car.

    FWIW, well setup RWD car is easily a match for an otherwise similar car with the FWD layout. True, not all RWD cars are created equal, but if you buy one with roughly a 50-50 weight distribution, a good skid control system and put winter tires on it, it'll be tough to beat no matter how slippery it gets out there.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Uhhh, the 300M is a FWD car.

    Sorry, I misspoke - it was a Chrysler 300, a 2008 model, which is RWD (an AWD version is available, but my rental was not AWD).

    FWIW, well setup RWD car is easily a match for an otherwise similar car with the FWD layout. True, not all RWD cars are created equal, but if you buy one with roughly a 50-50 weight distribution, a good skid control system and put winter tires on it, it'll be tough to beat no matter how slippery it gets out there.

    I don't know how well it's setup since I know nothing about the 300. All I know is that driving 35 mph with no hills or curves I had trouble maintaining control of the car. In the DC area with our hills, FWD or AWD are nearly a necessity when it snows. I'm sure an excellent driver with winter tires can do fine in snow with RWD, but most people are not excellent drivers and most people around here do not buy snow tires.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    In the DC area with our hills,

    You must live in a part of DC I am unfamiliar with. We are near Ft. Reno, the highest elevation in the district and it is a whopping 450+/- feet above sea level. I'll let Shipo do the coversion, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find any grades of more than 5% on a public street here.

    I think tires are a bigger factor than you realize. In DC, I never had the slightest problem getting around in my old FWD Nissan Maxima SE. With the higher performance tires that came on my Acura TL 6-speed, I was slipping around on packed snow. My wife and I owned an Isuzu Trooper for 9 years and 90,000 miles and I could count on both hands the number of times we shifted it from RWD into 4WD using the gear shift for the transfer case.
  • You must live in a part of DC I am unfamiliar with....but I think you'd be hard pressed to find any grades of more than 5% on a public street here..

    In my experience, it doesn't have to be a very steep grade to cause problems. The gently rolling hills, of which there are many in Northern VA, are very difficult to negotiate with RWD in any kind of heavy traffic when it's snowing (unless you have snow tires and are a very good driver), especially the kind of wet, heavy snow we usually get in this area. Last winter I was in Fairfax City when it began snowing. By the time I got on the roads, it was very slick. Going a nice, steady pace, I had no problems negotiating the hills between there and Arlington. The RWD cars, on the other hand, were slipping and sliding all over the place - especially when they had to slow or stop midway up a hill. I agree it's not often you need AWD in this area, but when conditions such as those arise, I want either AWD or FWD.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    I had no problems negotiating the hills between there and Arlington. The RWD cars, on the other hand, were slipping and sliding all over the place - especially when they had to slow or stop midway up a hill.

    I am sure that if you are from Nebraska, you realize that we live in an extremely snow-challenged area where many drivers could have a frontal lobotomy and it would IMPROVE their skills. Hell, they cancel schools at the forecast of snow here. If they had done that in my snow belt hometown, I wouldn't be coaching 4th grade girls basketball, I'd still be trying to graduate from grade school myself.

    Many of the more upscale RWD cars that you see on the streets here - BMW's Mercedes, Jaguars, etc - often come with high performance, low profile, summer compound tires as standard. Forget the fact that the owners are hardly "high performance" drivers, but then you add the additional insult to injury that such tires perform horribly in snow. The summer compound gets hard as a rock and the tread pattern is counterproductive. One of the women in a business lunch group I belong to drives a Jag S type and will not even leave her condo if there is snow in the forecast. And yet the idiot (at least on this count) replaced her tires last year with more of the same Pirelli summer compound tires, claiming it's "better for handling". This woman wouldn't know good handling if Enzo Ferrari showed up at her front door with the keys to a 430 Modena. :confuse:

    I am sure your AWD RL could run circles around my summer tire equiped TL 6-speed. But I am equally confident that I could run circles around most of the AWD cars with my old Nissan Maxima with all season tires, based solely on snow driving experience, decent tires and a functioning brain. And the next time I need to replace my TL tires, I think I'll try using it myself.
  • I am sure that if you are from Nebraska, you realize that we live in an extremely snow-challenged area where many drivers could have a frontal lobotomy and it would IMPROVE their skills.

    To a great extent, you are right. However, to be fair, the snow we get here is different from what usually falls in western Nebraska where I'm from. Here it's wet, heavy snow that often freezes for a little while after it starts snowing providing a delightfully slippery driving surface. The snow I generally experienced growing up in western Nebraska was light, fluffy stuff that you could drive in until it got deep enough to high-center in or it piled into 6-ft drifts.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    Hell, they cancel schools at the forecast of snow here. If they had done that in my snow belt hometown, I wouldn't be coaching 4th grade girls basketball, I'd still be trying to graduate from grade school myself.

    If they didn't, the insurance companies would claim bankruptcy from the accidents and road-rage results. That's why the typical driving public would be much safer just to buy an AWD optioned sedan and call it even.

    Regards,
    OW
  • of automobile magazine, and on the front cover it had the R8 car of the year on it.
    hoping someday, it will come in a sedan.

    happy new year & safe & fun driving gentleman!
  • you are correct, infact its AWD that will be gone in a matter of time, if all racing circuits keep banning audi quattro from racing (especially from the boys at porche).

    so my question to habitat1 is, why doesnt porche put the GT2 in, and race the awd audi boys?

    imho any rwd boys have no chance of victory against QUATTRO, so they banned them instead.

    kind of makes you think who's making a, d a statement.

    happy & healthy new year to you & your's!

    UJ
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Look, Joe, you can make or justify your decision for getting an AWD sedan based upon its use an Audi race car if you want. Heck, you can base it on sunspot events, for all I care, with about the same degree of relevancy.

    Audi's success with their R10 TDI race car is impressive. But it has nothing to do with my evaluation of or decision regarding a family sedan, sport sedan or sports car. With the exception of the limited production R8, Audi doesn't even make a sports car, and the company's "sport" sedans are exceedingly heavy and dull compared to every one of their comparable counterparts from BMW, IMO. I have driven the A4 and A6 Quatro's on several occasionas as service loaners and was entirely underwhelmed by their performance and driving feel.

    With respect to the R8, I'll get my chance to give an informed opinion on January 24. My Porsche dealer is also an Audi dealer and they are having a special charity event to celebrate their move to a new location/showroom. I have been promised a 10 minute test drive in the R8. I am working on the Porsche GM to allow me a test drive of his personal GT3 back to back to compare. But, for what it's worth, look at the numbers:

    R8 vs. GT3

    Horsepower: 420 vs. 415 = Audi 5 more
    Torque: 317 vs. 300 = Audi 17 more
    Curb weight: 3,605 vs. 3,075 = Audi 530 lbs more (ouch!)
    0-60: 4.4 vs. 3.9 = Porsche 0.5 faster
    EPA: 13/20 vs. 17/24 = Porsche 25%+/- more fuel efficient.

    You are welcome to pretend you are in a R10 TDI driving your AWD sedan. Of course, to be true to the Audi, you'd need to replace your engine with a diesel powerplant. And replace your manual transmission or slushbox automatic with a $25k+ DSG. And replace your tires with 150 mile treadlife slicks, lower the car down to 1/2 inch over the pavement, stiffen the suspension to handle 3 g turns, put in a roll cage and 5 point racing harness, throw in a fire extinguisher or two....

    Me, I'll stick with the reality that a street legal production sport sedan or sports car is a different animal than a multi million dollar purpose built race car. And Audi might do well to take just a little of that engineering prowess from Formula One and redirect it to making their production cars a little less obese.
  • jc07jc07 Posts: 5
    As a recent Audi purchaser (2008 A6 4.2) I relied heavily on all these boards to learn about other owner experiences and, of course, make the fateful BMW vs Audi comparison.

    I think Habitat1 has hit the nail on the head: a street legal production "performance luxury sedan," Audi or BMW, that I can find in a showroom or order from a dealer is so far removed from the racing vehicles that we read about in these discussions that the debates basically become purely hypothetical. These are not vehicles I am going to be driving anytime soon -- at least not on the way to work on with my family!

    And my two humble cents on why I chose the Audi over the 5-series:

    1) Interior quality blew away BMW. Not even close.
    2) Exterior A6 design is cleaner than the busy, over-designed 5 series. (IMHO)
    3) The 4.2's V-8 and sport suspension helps adjust for "obesity," although it still does not touch the 5-series for handling.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    Is there that much of a difference in the AWD "feel" of the A6 vs. the 5'er to make a difference. Obviously, not in your case. It seems to be like splitting hairs.

    The 5 is a porker to an enthusiast due to the way over 3,000 lb. weight of an E60/61. That is why it is in a different class and I would think from the amount of these I see on the roads, quite a popular car for an non-enthusiast.

    The A6 must be very close to the 535xi.

    As previously reported, I see more xi versions than the standard i where I live. The marketing hype seems to be doing just fine for BMW. The real answer is these are all fine cars and there is no collusive plan to overthrow the enthusiasts at BMW.

    This seems to be a new day at BMW and the weight thing is relative. The new M3 is not going to change anytime soon retrospect to the pre-2000 M series weight/size class. At >400 HP, there is enough sport in this evolution and I am sure the chassis should handle the added power just fine.

    Regards,
    OW
  • jc07jc07 Posts: 5
    I found a difference in handling (but not that I drive in a way that will remind me of that). Also - the 535i & xi have the new straight six with twin turbos. That engine is unbelievable from a dead stop. But again, I am not going to typically operate the vehicle that way.....

    Overally very happy with my Audi.

    Regards
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,400
    Here's wishing you the best in your A6.

    Regards,
    OW
  • how are you,

    we must have some kind of misunderstanding, my feeling with you is that rwd is more superior than awd?

    if i'm wrong, EXCUSE ME please.

    because my opinion has been obvious, that AWD vs RWD is only tenths of a second difference, either way!

    safe & fun driving gentleman! :)
  • jeqqjeqq Posts: 216
    that as we grow older we learn to compromise.

    I test drove a 528XI and found it handled great but did not have enough power. I tried the 535XI and was wowed by it. I read the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report on side impact and decided against it.

    For me the next best thing is an A6. Because I'm old and learning to compromise I drive an AWD with all seasons. I get in the car and whatever nature throws at me I pretty much can deal with it. So maybe Shipo and the rest of you guys should calm down, learn how to be tolerant and let us old guys feel good about driving our AWD's:). We feel safe in them.
  • well said, infact when my son who is 22 is pasing me at the track,( amongst many other highend RWD sport cars. i also own a Z06) yes i worry for his safety, but understand the joy of racing, and that his somewhat modified R32 is a blast to ride!
    so to say whats better is only in theory( awd or rwd ) in which is more faster or nimble comes down to the driver, and how fast or hooked up his ride is.

    when it comes to stock cars, in everyday driving, the significant difference comes down to weather, be it dry, wet, snowy or even sandy, for me it will always be AW Driving!

    safe & fun driving gentleman. :)
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    Actually, it has nothing to do with which is quicker, more stable, or safer. It's all about how satisfying it is behind the wheel.

    If I had to deal with a lot of inclement weather, instead of a 335xi, I'd buy a 335i and a 10 year-old Nissan Pathfinder.
This discussion has been closed.