Audi's new, more efficient All-Wheel Drive System. Credit: caranddriver.com
Before, the AWD system was seen as a means of performance – in that it provided the much-needed traction for cars of superior power output to translate into sheer acceleration without the drama of taming a loose bison.
Unlike 4WD systems (and there is a difference), AWD is deployed on a full-time basis, rather than needing to be engaged. These days, AWD systems are just found in even in your everyday, mass-produced vehicles much like Audi’s Quattro, Mercedes’ 4Matic and Subaru’s Symmetrical All Wheel Drive System.
No off-road tyres? No problem. Credit: YouTube
The No.1 advantage of having a vehicle with AWD is unrivalled traction, both in dry or wet driving conditions. This is because rather than transmitting power to just two wheels, whether front or back, it’s applied evenly across all-four wheels much like those in the Subaru’s for example.
This allows the vehicle to be more sure footed even under slippery driving conditions, and thus significantly improving grip when driving in sloppy or moderate off-road terrains.
The video shows how much quicker an AWD drive vehicle can get off the line in contrast to one that is RWD.
While the system ensures the vehicle to be more sure-footed but it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to assume that it improves handling (unless it's supplemented by Torque Vectoring or other equivalent systems).
In essence, the advantage of better traction simply allows the vehicle to get off the line quicker; as traction is distributed evenly to all four tyres, optimising all the power the vehicle’s engine has to offer.
The additional weight would come from the drive shaft, rear drive axle and the rear differential. Credit: clearmechanic.com
Having an AWD system means that your drivetrain would consist of more components. This includes extra differentials and drive shafts to drive the wheels at the back. For example, a quick look at both the 2WD and AWD Honda CR-V’s would show a clear 50-kilogram difference in their weight.
Fuel Economy Affected
As the overall weight of the vehicle increases, not only does it hinder its acceleration, fuel efficiency may not be as savoury as it would be in a 2WD vehicle.
The rise in cost will most likely also contribute the long-term maintenance of the AWD vehicle as the differentials on AWD vehicles require oil changes. Although these lubricants do not need to be changed as often as engine oil, it’s still a cost to factor in.
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