Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why do you really need a 4WD car?

Recently we had a discussion on how superior 4x4 (4WD) cars (regular road cars, we don't talk SUV here) are in bad weather conditions. This is certainly true. But is it really worth the extra iron and engineering these days? As I just returned from the mountains where barely nothing else seems to be "en vogue" I thought it's worth some further investigations.
Besides the fact that I didn't have any issue at all with my RWD (rear wheel driven) BMW there's a lot more speaking against 4WD cars. Look at the comparison table where I listed two BMW and Audi, both existing in 4WD and RWD/FWD configuration. The 4WD models are clearly heavier, 105 kg in the case of the BMW 330i, 75 kg in the case of Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI. But even worse, the 4WD cars consume at least 10% more energy and therefore emit more CO2 too. Even the performance suffers, mainly because of the extra weight I would assume. When I bought my current car I switched from a 4WD 5 series BMW to a RWD 3 series. I so much more love to drive the RWD 3 series car. The reduced weight makes a hell of a difference. While the 5 series felt almost like a truck the smaller 3 series convinces with a good handling and is a joy to drive. Now of course I will lose a drag race on snow and I might have an issue with a steep hill under ice conditions from time to time, but looking back, this has really rarely been happening. So why to carry 100 kg extra given all the electronics (DTC, PASM, etc.) on board? I don't see the point.

1 comment:

John L said...

You've got a point there. I have considered the same thing when I've encountered the odd 2WD (admittedly RWD) vehicle way into the outback where there aren't any roads. Sometimes they get to where they had wanted to go. Knowledge of the conditions is important too though.