FWD vs. RWD: Here's Which Performs Better In Snow

It’s an age-old question. All other factors being equal, which is best in snow, front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive? We’re finally able to determine the answer thanks to Tyre Reviews on YouTube.

The channel recently brought together two similarly specced German sedans to see once and for all whether FWD or RWD is the better choice in a snowy environment. The cars, an Audi A4 and a BMW 3 Series, use similarly powerful diesel engines and are equipped with identically sized Goodyear UltraGrip Performance 3 winter tires.

Despite the weight distribution differences and opposite driven wheels, the two cars perform near-identically in the straight-line acceleration test with traction control enabled. The BMW takes a slight edge over the Audi when traction is turned off, though, likely because the car’s weight gets pushed to the rear when acceleration occurs, lending more traction to the driven wheels. 

The two cars are then pitted against each other on a 15-percent incline to see which has more trouble starting from a stop. Both perform well, on average, but again it’s the BMW that performs slightly better. In a test of lateral acceleration on a snowy skid pad, the two cars are equal, thanks mostly in part to their identical rubber.

Things get interesting when the two cars are pitted against each other in a snow handling course. The BMW sets a quicker lap time with traction control off, but it’s the Audi that’s quicker when the cars keep ESC enabled. 

Tally up all of the different results, and it’s the BMW and its rear-wheel drive that takes victory – but not by much. If there’s one conclusion you should take from this video, it’s that you’d be fine in the snow no matter which wheels are driven, so long as you have a proper set of snow tires on your car.

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