RWD vs FWD BMW, Saab

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Is it worth the premium price of a BMW to get a RWD car?
Does it handle that much better than a Saab, say?
When I was growing up in NE, Saabs were very popular in the snow, but
I've heard that FWD cars just aren't a true "driver's car". Would you notice the difference only under extreme circumstances? I wonder if traction control on a RWD car would make it handle almost as well as FWD in the snow.
Has anyone driven both of them? I've driven a BMW 525 and I didn't notice that much, but it wasn't extreme driving.
Also is a FWD car with more of a 50/50 balance better than the 60/40 type balance?
Many questions, I know.
Here's another....what year did BMW stop using a dip-stick in the 3 series? I think I want one with a dipstick!
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Yes.

I'm sure you could fit a Saab with some nice suspension, but in general I'd rather a rwd BMW.

In snow FWD is better for most drivers to be honest, it's a bit harder to lose traction. But when you DO lose it in a fwd car I think it's harder to regain control than with rwd. That said, BMWs benefit HUGELY from four good snow tyres. I live in the highlands of Scotland and am on snows for 4-5 months of the year, there's not much I can't get through.

50/50 balance is always a good thing.

When the current e90/92 three came out.
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My E46 handles much better than my wife's 9-3 - and even with the stiffer sports suspension, the BMW ride is much more comfortable as well.

The issues in snow are ground clearance and proper winter tires. I like the Dunlop M3 for a blend of snow traction and dry performance.

Maybe someone can compare a 5 series with a 9-5.

What FWD has anything approaching a 50/50 balance?

Why do you need a dipstick? None of my BMWs has burned any oil in between the 8,000 mile changes.
Tom K.
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RWD everytime, never owned a FWD...cant stand em, and i have driven plenty, even high spec/performance ones...still hate
Love nothing more than pushing a car around a bend and putting the power down
Started off with a 9xx cc Talbot Sunbeam, and a 1.6 FSO and still have fun...then spent many years on 70 and 80 Celicas all with RWD, best of all was a 77GT race tuned..
I have a 525 e34 salloon, with Eipach? springs, handles like a dream...trouble its a auto which scares me a little. Had the back out on my 525 e34 touring a few times, thats scary.
Hate FWD cars, would never own one...even turned down motorracing with a RS2000 escort cos it was FWD.
With me, the dipstick is behind the wheel lol
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"stinkeroo" wrote

Handling to a large degree is a function of suspension tuning. An RWD car with crappy suspension may handle worse than a FWD car with nice suspension. Other things like weight and weight distribution come to play as well. My A4 (B5) handled better than my e39, not necessarily because the e39 is a bad car, but mainly because the e39 is larger and heavier. I don't know which specific BMW and which specific Saab you're trying to compare.

Get proper AWD if you want the best in snow performance. Of course appropriate winter tires are still mandatory and probably make the biggest difference because AWD will only help you get going, but it's the tires that will help you stop. BMW's DSC system is pretty good at keeping you out of trouble as well, but it does not defy the laws of physics.

Yes. That is the problem with most FWD cars - they're front-heavy, and that is to a large extent the result of them being FWD - more of the mechanics are located up front. Do any of the Saabs have 50/50 balance?
Cheers, Pete
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Thanks for great replies. The 9-3 is something like 53/47, which is pretty good, I'd think.
Don't think it handles quite the same way as a RWD car though.
Interestingly I grew up driving a 76 Corolla RWD, I loved driving in snow, but it can get tricky at times. Where I live now, it's not snow, just rain that I'd worry about.
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wrote:

yup how i learnt to drive, along with the mistakes....now not seen any snow for donkies years, and the odd flake we do get, brings the roads to a standstill....bah, doesnt happen to me in E Germany in deep snow
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http://www2.saabusa.com/93s/features.asp?start=home
I've found both the Goodyear F1 GS-D3 and the Continental SportContact2 summer performance tires to be excellent in the rain. Naturally you wouldn't want to run them in snow/ice conditions.
Tom K.
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stinkeroo wrote:

I'll weigh in. I currently own 1 BMW (an old '94 325i) and 4 SAABs 2 - '98 900's and 2- '03 9-3 Sport sedans. I have owned several others of each brand. SAAB classic 900's, BMW E30's, E34's and a Z3.
I buy the SAABs now because they go like shit in the snow after putting some real winter tires on them and the are cheap to buy (used). Both cars are very easy to maintain yourself, which is ironic because they are among the most expensive to maintain at the stealerships.
The old BMW handles better than any FWD car in the dry. Period. End of story. RWD rules. Furthermore, learn to drive a RWD car, put some good winter tires on it and you can drive through (almost) anything.
Old farts like me have an advantage in that we learned to drive RWD cars in the snow because we didn't have a choice, that is all there was at the time.
PS - for inexperienced drivers (like my adult kids) it is much *easier* to drive a FWD in the snow with good winter tires.
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-Fred W

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Once you run a set of winter tyres you'll kick yourself for not getting any before. Even on my e30 with winter tyres driving in very heavy rain was just like driving on a dry road!
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"John Burns" wrote

Why would you need winter tires for heavy rain, unless we're talking about near-freezing temps? In warmer temps, most summer tires are better in the rain than anything else. Take Goodyear F1 GSD3 for example.
Pete
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Since John lives in Scotland, where they have lots of cold rain, that's probably what he means.
As far as Goodyear F1 GS-D3, I have them on my 330xi, and they're an ok rain tire in the Seattle mist and light rain, but they don't adequately drain to be good in torrential rain and standing water. My Michelin Pilot Alpine winter tires are better.
FloydR
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"Floyd Rogers" wrote

Interesting. I had the Pilot Alpins on my previous car, and I thought they were way overpriced for what they offered. And as far as their wet weather performance, I thought my summer Bridgestone S03 and ContiSportContact2 were much better.
Pete
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Agreed, S03s are awesome summer tires and handle downpours with aplomb.
But they are a one-way express ticket to the breakers if you get caught in freezing temperatures...
/daytripper '00 s4 6spd
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Pete wrote:

I have the Arctic Alpins as my winter tires for my E36. They are as good as Blizzaks and do not wear out as quickly. The Blizzaks have the softer rubber compound only in the first 1/2 of their tread life, then they become harder.
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Because even in the Highlands of Scotland it doesn't snow every day in witner, sometimes it rises just above freezing and we get rain ;-)
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well from what i have realized RWD is pretty much ultimate, AWD is heavy and your selection of car becomes very little. From what i have seen FWD cars tend to have a slower launch as a RWD car from personal expirence. Hope it helps
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

AWD adds not only a lot of weight, but complexity and cost.

The weight transfer is to the rear during acceleration, giving RWD a decided advantage, in that regard. Assuming decent amounts of traction, of course.
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As soemone else said, a lot it to do with suspension set-up. If I had to accurately negotiate a twisty course I'd rather do it in a modern FWD than a 70's charger. If accuracy wasn't a problem then.....
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adder1969 wrote:

Do you think it's fair to compare a modern FWD car to a 30-year-old RWD car, and a mediocre one at that? I suppose you'd saddle the old car with 70's vintage tires, as well?
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