It’s one of the oldest quandaries in the business: how do you make a front-wheel-drive car that’s as pure and good and responsive to drive as its more traditional rear-wheel-drive equivalent? And more to the point, is it even possible to do so in the first place?
I still believe the answer is no, you can’t, not quite – because being pulled along by a car will never quite match the greater tactility that comes from being pushed by it.
Yes, there are all sorts of packaging benefits that automatically accompany front wheel-drive. And, yes, there’s also – in theory although not always in practice – greater fundamental stability and therefore safety in a car that’s being pulled along by its front wheels.
But the flip side is that a rear drive car will always, or should always if its engineers have done their job right, possess sweeter steering responses, purely because the steering system itself is uncorrupted by the thrust of the engine.
There are also many more options available to the engineers of rear-wheel-drive cars in terms of chassis balance. And by that I don’t mean suspension tuning as in springs and dampers and ride quality and so on; from that point of view it makes not a lot of difference which end of the car is being propelled.