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FWD, AWD, RWD and the Luxury Performance Sedans

124

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: 8,250
    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: 8,250
    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: 8,250
    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: 8,250
    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: 8,250
    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!
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