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Drivetrains Explained – RWD, FWD, AWD
It’s impossible to buy a car these days without being confronted with phrases like rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive and the even more confusing all-wheel drive. Everyone has an opinion on what makes the best car, and they all seem to disagree. How then, are you supposed to know what to choose? We’ve compiled an easy guide to each drivetrain, complete with pros and cons, so you can enter the showroom fully informed and confident.
This is a classic, and was almost exclusively used in cars for many years. The engine is mounted longitudinally, with the transmission bolted straight on, so that power is sent directly to a differential unit via a driveshaft. The weight distribution between the front and rear of the car is better than other drivetrains, so this is a good choice if you want nimble handling and less wear and tear on the tyres. The focus on the rear wheels does however reduce the passenger and cargo space in the car, and it offers poor handling in wet and slippery conditions, so be sure to bear in mind what kind of driving you’ll be doing in your new car.
Front-wheel drive is the drivetrain found most commonly in modern cars, mostly due to benefits such as reduced weight and better fuel economy. The engine can be mounted either sideways or longitudinally, connected to the transmission and differential with one unit called a transaxle. Complex universal joints connect the wheels to axle, allowing a smooth transmission of power while the wheels turn. Because the front wheels are also responsible for steering, wear on the tyres and suspension happens much more quickly, and they can’t handle as much power before the steering becomes unpredictable.
For impeccable traction and handling, all-wheel drive is the best way to go. There are many similarities in configuration between all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive vehicles, with the latter adding a compact centre differential, driveshaft and rear differential to allow both sets of wheels to turn at the same speed. Much more power can be harnessed from this drivetrain, which is why it is the configuration of choice for Audi, providing the excellence of performance synonymous with the brand.
Audi quattro is the all-wheel drive technology for which the German marque is renowned. Born on the racetrack, it continues in everything from the compact and nimble S1 and the family-sized Q7, to the luxuriously sporty R8. Audi’s quattro technology debuted in 1980, and has since sold more than five million permanent all-wheel drive vehicles, continuing to provide the very best in everyday safety, performance and sportiness.
Find the entire range of brand new Audi quattro vehicles and more at Jardine Motors Audi. We’re ready when you are.