AWD vs RWD -which handles better in good conditions?

I live on a very steep hill, and for those few slushy days, I need AWD. I was very happy that BMW started making their xDrive system.
I always assumed that with AWD, one pays a price as the car is heavier,
and I assumed, the handling in good conditions wasn't as good.
I'm confused about handling anyway. The first time I drove a front wheel drive car, I was utterly impressed with the handling. I've always had front wheel drive ever since, and was surprised to hear so many good things about rear wheel drive.
But now that I have BMW 3281 AWD , am I getting handling as good as a rear wheel drive BMW?
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On 2014-05-25 02:44:06 +0200, really real said:

I had a 330d wagon E46 and then a 330xd wagon E46 between 2000 and 2013 basically the same cars except that the second was really more powerfull than the first.
you have a light that gets on when the electronic detects a slippery road the bmw "DTC" or "ESP" for other brands. it was quite easy to light it with the 330d : any wet road, a roundabout, a wet roundabout (easy !)
it was quite impossible to light it with the 330xd. I only could do it once or twice under heavy rain and bad road and fast speed at the same time...
--

Jean-Yves.


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Basic car (< 100kW)
FWD good handling, better than RWD in snow / rain RWD good handling in dry, more difficult (but predictable) in wet, poor in snow AWD good handling in all conditions, but noticeable penalty in performance and fuel consumption
Powerful car (>100kW)
FWD moderate handling - encounters problems with wheel spin under hard acceleration, especially in wet RWD good in dry, fishtails under hard straight-line acceleration in the wet, difficult in wet, bad in snow (especially on wide tyres) RWD with LSD / DSC LSD or DSC will prevent fishtailing, DSC will also remove power slides and improve handling in snow* 4WD good in all conditions, performance penalty less noticeable and offset by better application (e.g. Bentley Flying Spur burning off a drag racer with ease), however you still pay for it at the pump and in the workshop. Offset torque distribution (e.g Ferguson Formula) or an automatic system will giver the best results.
Most mass market cars have gone over to FWD, even Ford who held out the longest. OTOH BMW have stuck with it as most of their cars are high performance.
* in 2011 I foolishly followed a 4WD down a narrow hilly country lane in my 735i after heavy snow. I managed to turn it around in a farm yard, and then tried to re-ascend the hill. Gently throttle application and the DSC meant I was able to crawl out slowly and steadily and not slide off to the side. Without DSC it would have been nearly impossible.
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Not all AWD systems are the same. The design of the center differential makes a big difference in performance and some use hydraulic coupling that allows the vehicle to drive very much like a RWD under good conditions.
The Subaru AWD system handles remarkably well and permits you to adjust the compliance of the coupling to meet the road conditions. The BMW system I can't say anything about because I have never driven it.
BUT.... your point about the added weight is an important one and one that people seem to miss. Don't forget the added complexity of the drive train and the added repair difficulty either.

I don't know, but I suggest you go to to the dealer and test drive a 3-series RWD and decide for yourself. I'd love to know what you think! --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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snipped-for-privacy@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) wrote:

A lot of FWD/AWD cars use those, and are essentially FWD until there is major slippage, in which case the rears can kick-in some effort. Lame, IMO. FWD cars really do NOT need it, and get-around well with all-seasons. It doesn't hurt them them that they tend to have narrower tires, too.
On the other hand, every RWD/AWD that I've read about boasts of a nominal torque split of something like 30/70, with some variation possible depending on conditions.
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It's "about the same", being essentially the same car and still having a near 50/50 weight balance. If you need to negetiate steep hills, or live where plowing is less frequent, it's a good choice.
Since I live in town, I choose not to pay extra for the added weight and complexity that I don't want. Most people don't need it. I've never had a problem in over a decade, but I do swap tires/wheels Spring and Fall, running Dunlop Winter Sports in the Winter.
Front drive cars can be made to handle OK, with lighter and lower-powered motors and stiffer suspension. Rear drive is obviously better, though, and becomes more important the sportier you drive.
I am amazed, actually, at how hard ALL the luxury brands are pushing AWD, these days. Lexus dealers around here do not even stock RWD cars, and they are rare even at BMW. Mercedes is pretty-much going AWD, too.
I thought we were supposed to be down-sizing, yet everywhere I look I see AWD cars that weigh more and get worse gas milage than they would if they were RWD. Start/stop and electric sterring boost makes up for that? I don't think so.
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