Is rear-wheel drive always better? Or is it just that it feels cooler to own a RWD car?

Lotus Elan M100

Lotus’ only front-wheel drive car for a reason. Although the sales team claim that the FWD drivetrain actually made it faster, we can’t help but be skeptical about such a claim, especially as Lotus didn’t continue to make their cars with front-wheel drive.

Although many may have been sceptical too during its release in 1989, the Elan M100 proved many wrong with it’s exceptionally tight handling and predictable nature. However, was it too predictable? Some reviewers had a similar sentiment, with many left thinking would it have been a better experience if it were RWD…

Volvo 850 T-5R and 850R

Photo: nakhon100, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A cult classic, not only for its boxy and unique styling but also for its performance, the 850 T-5R and 850R are surprisingly front-wheel drive vehicles.

The flying yellow brick is a bit of a sleeper, fooling the uneducated into thinking this is just another boring volvo estate with a lacklustre engine and a myriad of safety features to appease to the its target market of pensioners. The only thing that could have made this limited-edition estate cooler would be if Volvo decided to give it special treatment and granted it a RWD drive train!


Photo: Kevin Decherf from Nantes, France, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A totally bizarre car that was designed to fail from the start. I mean seriously, who decides to make a FWD Le Mans prototype car and expect it to end well?

It turns out that after some engineering magic and sheer technological trickery, this LMP car actually almost worked. It had staggered wheels with the wider tyres being at the front, weight distributed more to the front than the back and capable of 19,000 RPM, this was a serious racing machine. Despite the aerodynamics and the car actually performing well, it was scrapped due to reliability issues. Like we said, doomed to fail. Creating a front-wheel-drive LMP car was like flipping off the God of Motorsport.

BMW 1 Series and 2 Series Gran Coupe

Perhaps you can forgive the 1 Series hatchback for jumping on the bandwagon and falling in line with the rest of the hot hatch market but making a car like the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer is near-unforgivable. It’s a BMW coupe for goodness sake, it should be rear-wheel drive!

BMW once prided itself on virtually exclusively selling rear-wheel drive vehicles. It was cool and it made them stand out and gave the brand a kind of unapologetic personality. Well, those times are over and now, like so many other manufacturers, BMW sell a growing range of FWD vehicles as it makes more sense for them in terms of production costs and also customer experience. Most 1 Series drivers probably don’t even know the difference between FWD and RWD.

Audi Q3

The Q3 may not be the biggest SUV around but it certainly cannot be described as ‘small’ by any standards. You simply wouldn’t expect a luxury SUV of this stature to be front-wheel drive.

Amongst its competitors, the Q3 sits a little towards the more expensive side, with it offering styling, comfort, build quality, fittings and features that would be considered to be a little more luxurious. It still performs like an SUV such as this would be expected to but maybe at this point, it’s just a psychological thing. We want RWD, even if it makes no real difference!

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