Why Rear-Wheel Drive Is Pretty Much Dead

Before auto gearboxes and turbos take over, we'll probably be kissing goodbye to RWD...
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Like drifting? Want a car with that perfect 50:50 weight distribution? Promised yourself something rear-drive after years of front-drive hatches? You’d better be seriously quick, because all the evidence is pointing to rear-wheel drive being on its last legs. Forget the death of manual gearboxes – RWD is on its way out first. Here’s why.

1. Rear-drive can’t get any faster


Cars now are way more powerful than rear-drive can deal with. That’s why a 424bhp Audi R8 S-tronic would beast a 616bhp McLaren 12C off the line. A Nissan GT-R will destroy a Koenigsegg or Hennessey Venom with double the power for usable real-world pace. Everyone demands progress, and cars are launching faster, whether you’re a customer, marketer, or just a fan of Top Trumps. Even with launch control and dual-clutch, there’s only so much you can do to get a RWD missile off the line.

It’s why Mercedes is turning to 4MATIC AWD to make the 580bhp E63 and CLS63 AMG manageable, even usable, on the road. And as a result, it’ll do 62mph in 3.6sec. Forget BMW M5s – even a Noble M600 wouldn’t see which way the Merc went.

2. The last bastions of RWD are throwing in the towel


AMG is going AWD for the A45, CLA45, and next C, E, CLS and S-class. BMW’s ‘Ultimate Driving Machines’ are slowly moving to xDrive, starting with the X5/X6 M, then the M135i, etc…

Even Ferrari has gone for all-wheel drive. Has that hurt the FF? Nope. It’s selling scarily well for a machine with Marmite styling and a crackers quarter-million price-tag.

3. 4×4 means easy hybrid sports cars

NSX Concept

Want tomorrow’s sporty cars to be quicker and more eco-friendly? Simple, add electric gubbins. That’s what most car-makers are thinking. Take the new Honda NSX: petrol V6 driving the rear, and adaptive electric motors spinning the fronts. That template can be flipped for AWD hot hatches, new Scoobies and Evos, and even tomorrow’s 458-successor.

4. We’re the only ones that care

Petrolheads are a noisy minority. Fact is, most folk haven’t got a bloody clue which wheels push or pull their car along. As these shameful images remind us.




RWD. Get it while it’s hot…

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  • Damian Blaze

    I can’t imagine a world without RWD.

  • Tony Petrarca

    rwd gets better fuel economy, is easier to maintain, and lighter than an awd set up

    • Tony Petrarca

      also cheaper for car companies so yeah luxury brands might do it but i doubt regular car brands will make the switch

  • i drive an old mx5

    Dear god, i hope this isn’t automotive future. I’d be fine with electric motors to assist in low friction conditions (gravel, snow, off-road applications) But please give me a nice little switch that goes back to full power RWD. Nothing else feels the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.kimberley1 Steven Kimberley

    Been saying this for years. properly fast cars need 4wd.


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