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Thread: The AWD debate

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  1. #1 Default The AWD debate 
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    Got sick of this debate littering it's way through all other threads.


    Cheu's statement:
    My argument is that the advertised benefit for AWD, which is road handling, does not exist. It is factually false. and that is my main statement.

    Broadly speaking the performance gain, is minimal, negligible or in some cases is even negative. Which is a disagreement with the general consensus that AWD is a performance tool. Yes you can get on the power earlier in some scenario, yes you can 4 wheel drift. But to have those traits/abilities, you have trade offs. I don't consider the overall picture with trade offs as a system with gains. Thus they are useless. If one were to list everything benefit without discounting it with drawbacks, and then come to the conclusion that it is "better", then literally everything is "better" because you are giving the drawbacks proper weight in the consideration.

    The marginal benefit that exist are not realized unless you go 10/10ths or even 11/10ths, but all of the drawback is with you regardless of whether you go 3/10ths or 9/10ths. And overall that is why I have repeatedly make the statement that there are no benefits with AWD. Because in real life, you are always stuck with 100% of the drawbacks, the gains is not going to be available under most circumstances, and when the circumstances presents itself the gains are still marginal at best.

    But I'm sure there will be times when I dont/didnt state the entire statement and then pete tried/will try to pull my teeth by asking me to answer yes or no if AWD has any benefits, and asking a question in 10 different ways without looking at anything else, then say I am contradicting myself when in fact my statement has always been the same. I mean if needed ill attached a complete terms and conditions every time I make a statement about AWD.
    So here's the problem, this isn't what you argue most of the time. I would almost agree with a lot of what you've said, if that's how you'd been arguing most of the time. Instead someone says they like AWD in snow and you jump in with "AWD is useless". So lets take this one piece at a time.


    From a road car performance perspective.
    AWD absolutely had a benefit, but it's minimal in most cases. It lets you get on power earlier, which even you can't argue doesn't help things. From there it's 100% down to personal preference on what you prefer. yes there is drivetrain loss. Big deal. Sure, it adds a tiny amount of un-sprung mass, but heavy stupid wheels add way more. It's really personal preference. RWD feels cleaner and lighter. AWD has the confidence boosting feeling of the nose being pulled around. FWD just feels terrible.

    From a road car performance in wet weather.
    AWD does help. Guess what happens in racing when it rains, FWD cars suddenly do better than RWD. AWD do better then both (when all three are roughly on the same performance plane). Having power to the front wheels helps pull the nose into a turn, this effect is exaggerated when traction is lessened and the front wheels want to push more. Does this matter on street cars? Maybe. Depends how stupid you're being on the street. Will normal people notice the difference? Probably not. Will enthusiasts? Maybe.

    From a road car in winter weather perspective.
    Can you survive in (lets say) new england with a RWD car on snows? Absolutely. Will an AWD car make it easier? Hell yes. As long as we're talking maneuverability, we're all smart enough to know AWD does not give you a braking enhancement. But similar to trying to race in rain, having the ability to pull the nose in the direction you're trying to go is an improvement. I have only once gotten my WRX stuck in snow, and it was when I accidentally drove into 18" of heavy snow at 5mph trying to avoid a guy walking down the middle of the road and beached it. I've seen plenty of FWD and RWD cars on snows get stuck. I've gotten them stuck myself.

    From an offroad perspective.
    There's no argument here. AWD is better. No rally car has been 2WD in ages because it just can't compete.
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  2. #2 Default  
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    I'm copying Cheu's other post because I want to argue winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by cheu_f50 View Post
    Thing is, I think people's perception of my distaste for AWD isnt accurate. It's not that I prefer RWD, its mostly the fact that the general consensus that AWD is "good" isnt remotely accurate. The power of AWD as advertised is largely a myth. The limited benefits are overstated, and the drawbacks are understated.

    BTW we've argued whether AWD is needed for winter as well. So before Pete comes out swinging and say I'm changing the goal post, understand that there are many facade of the statement and its not something a simple one liner can cover everything. There will be a point where if you are climbing an incline convered with snow and ice, where RWD can no longer make the climb but AWD can progress further. Dont think I have ever disagree with that. But how many of those scenario do we encounter in real life are all our individual opinions. To say AWD is needed in New England winter is factually more incorrect than sayings its not needed because plenty of people without AWD cars still function normally each winter whenever there is a storm.

    EDIT: Mods please move this to new thread as well

    Lets talk about the winter thing for a second. We both know you don't need AWD. But we also have above average driving skill compared to the general population who doesn't even know there are two different coolant types. Let's consider my sister. She had a saab for a long time. She had dedicated winter tires. And yet snow scared her and she got stuck a lot. She'd refuse to drive anywhere when it was snowing. Most of this is a mental block, not car capability. Recently she bought a Tiguan. Now she has the all season tires that came on it, which we know are worse than snows. However all that marketing for AWD makes her think the car is more capable than the old saab, and as a result she'll actually try to drive in the snow. Now she's not helpless if she really needs to get somewhere. Did AWD really have that much of an effect performance wise? No. But it did help her.

    That's the benefit to most average people. You can't train everyone to be a better driver. You can't convince everyone that their 2WD is just fine. But AWD makes them feel more safe.


    Me? I like AWD drifts and donuts.
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  3. #3 Default  
    Quote Originally Posted by cegan09 View Post
    But AWD makes them feel more safe.
    I hate to just take a short sentence from a whole thing you wrote. I want to highlight this because this is a large portion of feeling when it comes to AWD, which is the case you have presented with your sister. It's the core of what I've said for a long time. Its marketing, its perception, its in people's heads, and the fact that people are buying into false advertising, that doesnt sit well with me.

    I literally cannot present my argument every time with 25 different bullet points as footnotes. And before Pete gets hung up on figure of speech, I don't know if its actually 25 points in the footnotes or not. It's just an expression. So hopefully I can avoid the argument whether my statement is 100% correct or 99% correct and therefore if its not 100% correction then somehow the whole thing becomes invalid.
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  4. #4 Default  
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    Yea, but you do jump in with trolling statements all the time with the blanket statement of "AWD is useless" in a way that looks like you're trying to start arguments. Hooray, you don't like AWD, why do you try and start the argument every time someone even mentions that a car has AWD?
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  5. #5 Default  
    Not interested in strawman arguments, only dealing with facts.
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  6. #6 Default  
    Quote Originally Posted by cegan09 View Post
    Yea, but you do jump in with trolling statements all the time with the blanket statement of "AWD is useless" in a way that looks like you're trying to start arguments. Hooray, you don't like AWD, why do you try and start the argument every time someone even mentions that a car has AWD?
    the same way you state your distaste for 911 engineering. I just happen to do it more often than you do. And your disagreement with bolt cages instead of a welded cage. It's all the same. I just happen to hang on to the same topic. Im not going to sit here and pick apart you or anyone else's statement.

    Get this, I also repeat the same thing about Miata, AutoX, Jalopnik, Bangle. It's just that in this scenario with AWD, I am in a camp of 1 vs many. Its not different from everything else. Its no different from other people's discussion of big block vs force induction. or domestic vs import. How many times do you see people jump to the "absolute conclusion" when it comes to turbos, or specific make of the vehicle. We all do the same thing.

    As for pete's suggestion that this is a strawman discussion. Not sure now I'm the one presenting the strawman here. I present my case, he picks on the little things that isnt the point. And then when I present my statement more completely, now all in a sudden its a strawman.

    The only statement I make as a direct response to Pete are direct question or statements he made for/AFTER me. So I'm at a lose here because with all due respect, It feels like you are just not getting what you want to hear as an answer out of me.
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  7. #7 Default  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheu_f50 View Post
    the same way you state your distaste for 911 engineering. I just happen to do it more often than you do. And your disagreement with bolt cages instead of a welded cage. It's all the same. I just happen to hang on to the same topic. Im not going to sit here and pick apart you or anyone else's statement.

    Get this, I also repeat the same thing about Miata, AutoX, Jalopnik, Bangle. It's just that in this scenario with AWD, I am in a camp of 1 vs many. Its not different from everything else. Its no different from other people's discussion of big block vs force induction. or domestic vs import. How many times do you see people jump to the "absolute conclusion" when it comes to turbos, or specific make of the vehicle. We all do the same thing.

    As for pete's suggestion that this is a strawman discussion. Not sure now I'm the one presenting the strawman here. I present my case, he picks on the little things that isnt the point. And then when I present my statement more completely, now all in a sudden its a strawman.

    The only statement I make as a direct response to Pete are direct question or statements he made for/AFTER me. So I'm at a lose here because with all due respect, It feels like you are just not getting what you want to hear as an answer out of me.
    Assuming you understand what i'm arguing, there is no debate on cages. When i say bolt cage, i'm talking a cage that has it's tubes joined by bolts. Absolutely not ok, absolutely weaker. Cages that are fully welded but bolt in at the spreader plates, while less ideal, are ok depending on what you're using them for.


    As for AWD, you really have changed the argument a few times. First you are against the idea that it has any performance gain. Then it's being against the advertisement that comes with it (get over that, advertisements lie and exaggerate all the time about everything). If you really want to discuss the physics and engineering of AWD in terms of performance I will. I have no interest in personal opinions on advertising and public's views.
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  8. #8 Default  
    You compared like 10 different subjective statements to your objective one.

    "I hate awd."
    Subjective statement. Your own opinion, cannot be right or wrong.

    You know why no one argues with you about jalopnik or miatas or bangle? Because those are all subjective statements.

    You know how the only one people argue with you on is
    "Awd is useless."?

    Because that is an objective statement and also an absolute. It is either write or wrong. And it is either 100% right or 100% wrong.

    Awd has several benefits, which you have acknowledged. Therefore it has at least some use. Therefore your statement is wrong.

    So I'm not sure why we are still here. When you start saying "people believe_____" that is a strawman argument because you're arguing with a viewpoint that no one else in the argument is taking.
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  9. #9 Default  
    Quote Originally Posted by cegan09 View Post
    Assuming you understand what i'm arguing, there is no debate on cages. When i say bolt cage, i'm talking a cage that has it's tubes joined by bolts. Absolutely not ok, absolutely weaker. Cages that are fully welded but bolt in at the spreader plates, while less ideal, are ok depending on what you're using them for.


    As for AWD, you really have changed the argument a few times. First you are against the idea that it has any performance gain. Then it's being against the advertisement that comes with it (get over that, advertisements lie and exaggerate all the time about everything). If you really want to discuss the physics and engineering of AWD in terms of performance I will. I have no interest in personal opinions on advertising and public's views.
    Sure we can talk technical. The changing of the topic is inevitable when there are 10 of you against what I am saying with 10 of you combating me with different arguments. It's not me who's changing it, its one of me answering to everyone else who present a situation why what I have said does not cover everyone else's discussion. (more to follow on technical things)

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Pete View Post
    You compared like 10 different subjective statements to your objective one.

    "I hate awd."
    Subjective statement. Your own opinion, cannot be right or wrong.

    You know why no one argues with you about jalopnik or miatas or bangle? Because those are all subjective statements.

    You know how the only one people argue with you on is
    "Awd is useless."?

    Because that is an objective statement and also an absolute. It is either write or wrong. And it is either 100% right or 100% wrong.

    Awd has several benefits, which you have acknowledged. Therefore it has at least some use. Therefore your statement is wrong.

    So I'm not sure why we are still here. When you start saying "people believe_____" that is a strawman argument because you're arguing with a viewpoint that no one else in the argument is taking.
    Bullshit. see my other statement in the other thread so we dont expand all over the place.

    I have said the same "absolute" statement about everything I had listed. In fact I call all of them useless. So picking on semantics whether or not i present my case as a opinion or fact, is just picking on semantics. I have done both to just about all of them. You happen to pick the one you want to argue with, and thats fine. Its no different than all of us saying Hennessy is a scam, Koenigsegg is a kit car, gummy bears are the best candy ever, or Sam Summer is > Sam Octoberfest. If you want to discuss the actual subject, lets do it. If you want to keep talking about how to make a statement, I'll give up and say sure, I didnt correctly phrase my argument for you to understand my point of view.

    I mean seriously. All you have been doing is just take my specific exceptions to my own argument that I have made, against my own argument that I have made.
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  10. #10 Default  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheu_f50 View Post
    Sure we can talk technical. The changing of the topic is inevitable when there are 10 of you against what I am saying with 10 of you combating me with different arguments. It's not me who's changing it, its one of me answering to everyone else who present a situation why what I have said does not cover everyone else's discussion. (more to follow on technical things)
    I have been offering for literally years to have a constructive technical discussion. But I stand by it's almost impossible online. Anytime I try to engage online it turns into a troll fest of you flat out saying AWD has no benifits in any way shape or form, and someone else trolling you to keep the dumb argument going.
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  11. #11 Default  
    Pointing out that his absolute statement is wrong is not trolling him it's just a statement of fact.

    I use your own statements against you because that's a much more effective debate tactic than using only my own words. If you admit there is some use then you admit your own statement is wrong it's much easier than trying to provide irrefutable data for what everyone already agrees on but that for some reason you choose to argue anyway until you're blue in the face.
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  12. #12 Default  
    On to the physics of it. I will go back to your break down of road car in different weather and offroad scenarios. Because y'all are picky about specifics I will be specific and say this is for a street car that you can buy. im going to use STI, EVO, GTR as my specific car of discussion, before I expand it on to prototype racing situations in another post.

    Road car dry
    Can you get on power earlier? yes but only if the car will rotate excessively if you apply too much throttle - because the engine is producing too much torque. Have never considered the STI, EVO, GTR as cars of high torque, so you will hardly have enough torque for this to happen. And while you may be able to get on power earlier - the same power and torque that the engine product will be "cut rate" power compare to a car with a more simple drivetrain due to efficiency losses. The one thing it occasionally help, its plague by the drivetrain loss everytime. Fact is you need to be 10/10ths with the whole car for the system to give you marginal benefits, if one were to argue that they DO in fact drive 10/10th all the time at all corners, in all given scenario - I would hate to say it, but that to me is picking bones from eggs. Because that individual is an exception to the rule. Keep in mind, rotating the car the perfect amount with RWD is also possible, and desirable.

    In summary, the benefits sometimes is offset by drawbacks all the time. I call that a net loss. Its no performance gain in the big picture.

    Road car wet
    AWD offers some help, still has the same drawbacks. Having the power to the front wheels pull the nose into a turn, having power to the rear wheels rotate the car so that the nose point in a direction you want. You have presented 2 different cases here between normal people and enthusiasts. We agree that normal people wouldnt take advantage of the difference. Your statement that maybe enthusiasts could feel the difference, thats valid, but I disagree that it is a performance gain. The rate of rotation is just more manageable because of the whole torque split thing I have said earlier. If its a 50:50 split, it will rotate a lot less than 15:85 or 0:100. If we are talking about road driving - if you want to go 10/10ths in the wet on public roads, sure you gain some. and lose the same inefficiency everywhere else. If you are not driving at 10/10ths in the wet, which is basically all normal people and many enthusiasts, the theoretical gains are not realized, not obtainable by most, or down right not there if the straights are long enough.

    In summary, this is a case where AWD is beneficial while other drivetrain cannot make up enough speed on any part of the road not exiting corners. It's a function of how much straight you have, how tight the curves are, how wet is "wet". The more less traction you have on the road surface, the more and more benefits you will get, with the same drawbacks/inefficiencies you start with as a "sunk cost" with AWD.

    Road car snow
    This is the case where AWD cars start to show performance benefits because it is so easy to be 10/10ths and sometimes 11 or 12/10ths for how easy it is to get overwhelmed by the torque for your typical road cars. Here there are 2 major things being presented here. One is slow driving not trying to get stuck, the other is maneuverability.

    Not to get stuck - not performance driving nor is it a competition to get stuck the lease. the trick is to not get your drive wheel stuck. nothing really for me to expand on. If you have AWD with open diff, it doesnt help you either. So if we really need to get down to it, ill concede that some AWD are better than others. We will discuss which individual system from individual company works or not work. Because pete will pick on me if I dont go case by case stating that many of them dont work when a handful of them do. Not sure if this is the area you want to get into a deeper discussion or not.

    Maneuverability - I disagree with the sentiment that the front wheel pulling is advantageous. It is the same idea with wet pavement that it is a function of how slick is slick. The slicker it is, the longer the non curve sections will need to be for non AWD to put power down. To say AWD is better for snow 100% of the time is as false as saying any other drivetrain is superior. It comes down to what you are asking the car to do. But ultimately you are still stuck with 100% of the inefficiency. And any time you dont drive 10/10ths, a RWD driving 10/10ths could be better/faster. The window where AWD excel just happen to expand when your torque would create a dynamic situation more often than driving in the dry.

    In short, this is on the same tangent, its a matter of how often you exercise AWD under 10/10ths when RWD or other platforms cannot, and other platform's benefit in efficiency and weight couldnt be made up due to the way the course is set.

    Offroad
    its not different from street. For Dakar, you dont want to get stuck, and 100% of the time you are driving all wheels on loose pavement. Call it what it is, its not performance. The gain in straight line is important. but then again this isnt something your typical road driver with EVO, STI, GTR would do.

    For your more traditional rally, there are often more corners, hairpins, tight turns in low gear, coupled with the fact that the cars have anti-lag so you have a lot of torque at a much wider spectrum of engine speed. Combining that with typical short straights, it would be impossible for RWD to be as competitive. But then again we are comparing purpose built race cars with road cars. So there are many different factors here at play.

    I give up on talking race car until next time. Because I have tons of work i didnt do and its 5:30
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  13. #13 Default  
    Quote Originally Posted by cegan09 View Post
    I have been offering for literally years to have a constructive technical discussion. But I stand by it's almost impossible online. Anytime I try to engage online it turns into a troll fest of you flat out saying AWD has no benifits in any way shape or form, and someone else trolling you to keep the dumb argument going.
    Its because I have a lot writing I need to do with my awesome new fountain pen. It is hard to have a discussion all together because my attention span isnt that long. And then pete still havent presented anything of value to discuss apart from talking about how he doesnt like the way I say things, or how the way I say thing isnt correct, instead of actually discussing the content of what I have said isnt correct.
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  14. #14 Default  
    At the end of the day, I dont have any love loss for people regardless of whether I like their life choices or not. AWD or otherwise.
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  15. #15 Default  
    After you've conceded all that, plus that AWD will accelerate harder on a street car in general, I'm tempted to ask what is it exactly you think the downside is? With how far you've come I feel like you're going to be picking up an STi by the end of the week.

    You seem way too caught up in drivetrain loss and power splits, neither really matters. You've been too busy making most of my points for me you haven't made many yourself.
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  16. #16 Default  
    You make no sense Pete. Still haven't seen you state kne point for or against anything. Just loads of points on wording and languages you want to make.

    With AWD, you start off with all disadvantages, gain some back in some corners then lose the advantages again when you are out of the corner. It's a net loss system. That's from a speed and performance prespective.

    You get into snow driving disscussion, please tell me what benefit you get from a AWD system with open diff, and how a 2 wheel drive car with limited slip or locking diff isn't better.

    Drivetrain loss, torque split, removed steering feel, added weight to system in equipment and fluids, unsprung weight are all significant drawbacks. But apparently you don't think that matters. Still you have stated no position, claimed no technical points, made no engineering arguments.
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  17. #17 Default  
    Most of the tine you don't even gain anything in corners unless very specific situations presents itself. If the situation isn't AWD favorable, AWD have all the disadvantages to start, still lose out on corners, and still get penalized everywhere else.
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  18. #18 Default  
    Now let's talk about the front wheel pulling in you guys have disscussed.

    Explain that to me please.

    A car understeer, or oversteer or is neutral (unless its 4 wheel drifting) I don't think you are trying to tell me the front wheel will pull in so you become oversteer when it's netural. And if it's already oversteering, the front pulling in makes it worst.

    If you are understeering, how is it that applying more torque to front wheel will give you more grip, when throttle will transfer weight further back, when the front wheel already is lacking grip.
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  19. #19 Default  
    Quote Originally Posted by cheu_f50 View Post
    You make no sense Pete. Still haven't seen you state kne point for or against anything. Just loads of points on wording and languages you want to make.

    With AWD, you start off with all disadvantages, gain some back in some corners then lose the advantages again when you are out of the corner. It's a net loss system. That's from a speed and performance prespective.

    You get into snow driving disscussion, please tell me what benefit you get from a AWD system with open diff, and how a 2 wheel drive car with limited slip or locking diff isn't better.

    Drivetrain loss, torque split, removed steering feel, added weight to system in equipment and fluids, unsprung weight are all significant drawbacks. But apparently you don't think that matters. Still you have stated no position, claimed no technical points, made no engineering arguments.
    Why is there now an open diff? Why do you keep changing the argument?

    How can "torque split" immediately be bad without even specifying what it is? Like just as a concept, without any values defined you automatically assume it is a negative?

    I put zero stock into drivetrain loss since its never really measured, only assumed. Hard to evaluate based on real world examples. Its about applying power to the road anyway, not a dyno. So even if you have incramental power loss, you just acknowledged you have incremental traction gained, at least in the sense that by your own admission you can get on the power faster out of a corner, and also a traction advantage in terms of drag racing.

    Steering feel is 1) pretty subjective and 2) depends on the car, so I don't feel qualified, having only driven a handful of cars, to make blanket statements on everything.

    I'm not an AWD fanboy and I am not an AWD hater. I would rather evaluate each car on a case by case basis rather than just being like "AWD? It's shit." But that doesn't seem to work for you. Therefore you get the argument which I have put fourth, which is not an argument vehemently in favor of AWD, but rather one against the extremism of your position.
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  20. #20 Default  
    No I didn't acknowledge incremental traction gain. You can't have traction gain. It is physically not possible. You can put power down earlier, but that's not traction gain. Traction is limited by tires, not drivetrain. FWD/RWD/AWD all have the same traction. It's about how to utilize all available traction for 4 wheels. AWD attempts to spread torque over 4 wheels instead of 2, and in selected situation the power distribution could potentially be more even, but that is not always true, in many cases it isn't more beneficial. This is why torque split is key.

    Why am I talking about open diff? Because Subaru uses them. Chris' car should have limited slip rear, open front, and viscous coupling between front and rear. Non wrx or sti uses open both front and back with viscous coupling in the middle. But I could be wrong. Depending on the configuration, you don't get all or any of the benefits associated with AWD.

    Like I said before. Not changing the argument. You keep pulling bits and pieces out of context.

    When you have torque that would exceed the grip of 2 wheels, being able to put power down to 4 when you are able to split torque let's you put more of it to the ground. The amount of torque you need to break traction in situation that isn't starting from zero mph is tremendous.
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