Front, rear or all-wheel drive… which is the best car drive system — and the safest? The choice should in principle be based on the intended use and the areas to be used. Therefore, it is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of the different drive types.
Actually, the choice between three alternatives should not be so difficult to choose the best car drive system: But for some car buyers, the choice of drive becomes a philosophical question. Andreas Zygan’s approach is not particularly philosophical, but pragmatic. When deciding on a drive, it depends on the intended use, finds the head of development in the SUV sector at Mercedes-Benz. “There’s not the one single best drive,” he says.
“For regions with many inclines and frequent snowfall, four-wheel drive vehicles are suitable, for flatter regions two driven wheels are sufficient,” zygan explains.
Choosing the best car drive system
Propensity to understeer or oversteer
Reinhard Barton, driving safety trainer at the expert organisation Dekra, finds it difficult to say which is the best car drive system. “Front and rear-wheel drive basically have advantages and disadvantages, as do all-wheel drive,” he says.
A vehicle with front-wheel drive pushes over the front wheels in a bend that is too fast – so it is understeering. A rear-wheel drive vehicle tends to oversteer in such a situation – it erupts. This can be particularly noticeable on smooth roads.
Thanks to modern ESP control, motorists do not notice much difference in driving dynamics, says Barton. In such situations, however, front-wheel-drive cars tend to be better able to master than rear-wheel-drive cars.
Front wheel drive brings more space
Another factor in choosing the best car drive system is the performance of the car. For high-powered engines, manufacturers are more likely to rely on rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. A front-wheel drive, on the other hand, is mostly used because the motor is installed transversely, thus enabling a compact, light and inexpensive drive. It also creates more space in the interior.
According to Barton, the choice of drive is about usage behaviour and price. Front-wheel drive vehicles usually offer more space and are cheaper than comparable rear-wheel drive models. “They are again more dynamic and more for sportier riders.”
All-wheel drive brings more grip – and more fuel consumption
All-wheel-drive vehicles offer the best traction and therefore the most safety in bad weather conditions. However, they cost and consume slightly more than cars with two driven wheels.
City drivers are better off relying on a front-wheel drive car as it is less used and cheaper. The force is generated where it is needed: namely, in the front.
In the case of trailers, two drives have an advantage
Team drivers are better advised with a rear or four-wheel drive, because the trailer puts more strain on the rear axle and offers more traction. All-wheel-drive cars are suitable for drivers who have to carry heavy loads and often travel on bad roads.
In winter, motorists with front-wheel drive drive safer. Because it is better if a vehicle is towed than when it is pushed, as happens with the rear-wheel drive.
Driving instructor Norbert Foster from the Teach and Drive training centre in London has a clear opinion: “If you don’t mind the higher weight and fuel consumption, you are the safest to drive a four-wheel-drive vehicle,” he says.