What's Better For Snow Driving: FWD, RWD Or AWD?

The latest Tyre Reviews test involves running a Tesla Model 3 Performance in FWD, RWD and AWD modes in the snow to see what's best
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We all know that when it gets snowy on the roads, your choice of tyre is more important than the car’s drive layout. But if you have the right kind of footwear for the conditions, where is the drive best off going? And what’s the most fun?

See also: 2WD Plus Winter Tyres Easily Beats 4WD In The Snow

Jon Benson of Tyre Reviews was able to find out, sort of by accident. While setting up a Tesla Model 3 Performance for the test of some Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4s, he noticed the car lets you choose the front-to-rear torque split by percentage, and yes, that includes putting it 100 per cent to one car or the other.

RWD is the clear winner in terms of fun, but only just...
RWD is the clear winner in terms of fun, but only just...

With that in mind, the Model 3 was taken around a snowy circuit for three laps - once in front-wheel drive, once in rear, and a final in all-wheel drive. Granted, in two-wheel drive mode you’re missing the power of one motor, but in these conditions, there’s only so much you can lay down anyway. Plus, in a straight line, the Model 3 seems to default to 50/50 regardless of how the torque split is set.

Front-wheel drive looks to be a pretty unpleasant experience, with the car wanting to push wide with minimal provocation. However, in the real world where you’re not going for a lap time, it’d be a safe, predictable option.

Rear-wheel drive is, as you’d expect, a lot more fun, as well as faster. You need to be a lot more active behind the wheel when driving faster (Benson’s seen on the lock stops pretty frequently), but with appropriate tyres, there’s plenty of control and predictability.

What's Better For Snow Driving: FWD, RWD Or AWD?

The final run in all-wheel drive doesn’t come as much of a surprise - it’s a whole lot quicker, yet still plenty entertaining in terms of power sliding. The Model 3 soon drops the rear motor’s output to curtain any particularly lurid drifts, though.

We don’t end up with any huge surprises here, but it’s great fun to watch the Model 3 slide around while giving us a reminder of how important tyre choice can be in winter.


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