Front vs. Rear Wheel Drive

Since the invention of front wheel drive, there had been a debate about which one is superior: front or rear? There has never been a definitive winner, with good arguments for both sides… however, when it comes to motorsport and StreetCar specifically, some disciplines can favour one over the other.

There are many different types of drivetrain on production vehicles, however for the purpose of this piece we will only be discussing front wheel drive and rear wheel drive and not delving into variations such as rear engines, mid engines and four wheel drive. So what is the difference between the two? Front wheel drive means the engine sits above and drives the front wheels, and rear wheel drive is where the engine sits in the front but drives the rear wheels.

It should be noted that in any StreetCar discipline event, talented drivers can be found in both types of drivetrain. The distinguishing factor in grassroots events is that while the results show a mix of front and rear wheel drive, the driver’s ability is the distinguishing factor. That’s the beauty of grassroot disciplines – even the champions win in standard cars. Saying that, front and rear wheel drive can often favour different driving styles and the technique needed to excel in certain disciplines.

Front Wheel Drive: Pros and Cons

Being that the engine is located over the front wheels means that front wheel drive has weight over the front wheels which can provide grip on slippery surfaces or when climbing hills. Moreover, the compact nature of the engine and wheel combination typically makes the cars lighter. This means they have better fuel consumption and they are cheaper to purchase outright making it more a more affordable option.

The downside is that front wheel drive can increase the difficulty and drivability. The weight over the front wheels tends to create understeer, losing grip on the front wheels. On a more positive note, some drivers opt for this specifically as it suits their driving style.

Rear Wheel Drive: Pros and Cons

The general consensus is that rear wheel drive is more fun to drive due to the power being delivering from the rear of the car, causing oversteer, kicking the back of the car out. In dry conditions, it is advantageous and due to the weight distribution sitting near to the centre of gravity of the car, it creates a more balanced and predictable response from the vehicle.

On the other hand, rear wheel drive also comes with its cons. Typically, rear wheel drive is not as quick in wet or damp conditions, and the driving style is difficult to master. The way the driveshaft is positioned means there is typically less room in the interior, making daily driving slightly more inconvenient, but still manageable on the whole.

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