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Driving experience of RWD vs AWD?

Yes I have RWD and when I drove Teslas AWD it is definitely noticeable. The steering feeling is (of course) better with RWD. You can feel the car pull in the steering wheel with AWD.

- - - Updated - - -

Also, cars with coils do have better steering feeling than air suspension cars.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
11,835
15,672
California
I have an 85D but had a P85 (RWD) loaner one day. I like the handling of the 85D much better. You get the feeling that all of the wheels are working to keep you going in the direction you want. With the P85, I noticed a definite "squirreliness" where the rear end seemed to want to get out ahead of the car under heavy acceleration and on curves. With the 85D, I can accelerate all they way through a high speed curve and the car stays glued to the road. With the P85, it didn't feel stable accelerating through a curve and I thought the rear wanted to come around.
I think most people are used to driving either front wheel drive cars (torque steer) or rear wheel drive cars (squirrelly) with a 60%+ front weight bias. The Tesla has perfect front/rear weight distribution and with all wheel drive the handling is superb.
 

Electricfan

Active Member
Aug 24, 2013
1,253
378
Houston
I much prefer RWD. Driving an MKZ now (rental for out of town work) and its horrible. Test drove 70D, 85D and P85D and could feel the difference. I've no doubt the AWD is a better car from a handling/fast driving perspective. I'll always like the feel of the RWD over AWD though - its just personal preference.
 

3mp_kwh

Active Member
Feb 13, 2013
1,137
327
Boston
I think the reason Tesla replaced the sub-frame, and subsequently the bushings of the post ~7000 vins was because rear torque steer was also an issue. I do feel a little left right push from the back of one of the early P's, on acceleration. Simply dialing that out, for the most part, made the RWD cars better. I'd also agree the feel of RWD over AWD is also better, and more fun to manage at the limit, but the more powerful P85D AWD is both quicker and more stable for the majority of the non-limit driving I do. There's more fun in that, too.

At some point it becomes a balance, with AWD. Too much front pull starts to raise the boredom level, IMO. The auto-press writes about this appropriately, I think. Intuitively, you want more rear bias as the weight shifts backward under acceleration. It's where the traction is, just like the opposite when you are braking into a turn and can find a little more front steering grip if you aren't totally off the brake as you enter.

Here in continental Europe, we have to deal with snowy or icy road conditions. Any comparison about winter handling?

Snow tires and RWD Model S are fine. Again, just my opinion. Tesla is, if anything, too good at keeping the rear end from stepping out with either traction control on/RWD, or the mandatory traction control of the P85D/AWD. You can get into trouble with TC off, but you can also go faster. Same for multiple situations on dry pavement. I think the "D" cars add more safety with AWD, but because the TC systems are so dialed up with all Teslas, their main advantage is perhaps in getting unstuck, or through deeper snow.
 
I have met quite a few Norwegians this summer as the pass by the Middelfart supercharger. About 60-40 split on the rwd vs awd. Many have said that it was no problem, some have said that they upgraded to a D model because of snow.

But most RWD owners have said that it's not a problem. Personally if I lived someplace very snowy I would get a D. But I live in a country with snow 2-3 weeks every year so I don't really care about AWD.

For what it is worth I have been driving RWD cars for the last 5-8 years and never had a problem on our skiing holidays to the mountains.
 

mspohr

Well-Known Member
Jul 27, 2014
11,835
15,672
California
its a computer on wheels right?....

Maybe oneday there will be a firmware upgrade that allows you to weight the AWD to the rear or front dominance. Such as 20% front, 80% RWD.

would make for interesting case studies. Fun geeking.
I think the existing firmware continuously varies the front/rear application of power based on road conditions, speed, etc. Much better to have the computer do it responding to real time conditions than a fixed setting.
 
Good points! First and last snow on mountain roads will really show the capabilities of the Tesla AWD. We all know that going up an incline most AWD can manage. The tricky thing is getting down a windy incline safely. The mechanical systems of front and rear axles are more or less mechanically locked together. And this is sometimes a problem because, specially in corners, the turning radius front to rear wheels are not equal. So there must be some slippages and that might just be the point when one loses traction alltogether and gets into trouble.
Believe me I know what I am talking about as I live up the mountain and battle snowy roads every winter. (AWD SU...KI among others)
Well, this coming winter will show how good my 85D with electronic (independend? F/R) AWD-Drive really is. I trust that Tesla will have chances to collect and learn how to optimize (programming) the systems further.

its a computer on wheels right?....

Maybe oneday there will be a firmware upgrade that allows you to weight the AWD to the rear or front dominance. Such as 20% front, 80% RWD.

would make for interesting case studies. Fun geeking.
 
I think the existing firmware continuously varies the front/rear application of power based on road conditions, speed, etc. Much better to have the computer do it responding to real time conditions than a fixed setting.

Yes, but my thought was more about controlling the kinetics of front vs rear driving. Clearly, there is a difference between RWD and AWD feel. So the ability to control what you like may allow further personalization of the car. Even if anyone with AWD will just leave it stock. kinda a cool geek feature.
 
J

jbcarioca

Guest
Good points! First and last snow on mountain roads will really show the capabilities of the Tesla AWD. We all know that going up an incline most AWD can manage. The tricky thing is getting down a windy incline safely. The mechanical systems of front and rear axles are more or less mechanically locked together. And this is sometimes a problem because, specially in corners, the turning radius front to rear wheels are not equal. So there must be some slippages and that might just be the point when one loses traction alltogether and gets into trouble.
Believe me I know what I am talking about as I live up the mountain and battle snowy roads every winter. (AWD SU...KI among others)
Well, this coming winter will show how good my 85D with electronic (independend? F/R) AWD-Drive really is. I trust that Tesla will have chances to collect and learn how to optimize (programming) the systems further.
i have driven AWD since the Porsche 964 and a more recent BMW X. The newer the system, IME, the fewer the problems and compromises but all that mechanical garbage always has made t he driving experience much poorer. Until now. In my P85D I have not yet had snow and ice. I have had very heavy rains and partial flooding of streets. The D exhibits none of the 'clunkiness' and temporary loss of traction that precedes the compensation from the drivetrain that has been a part of every AWD I have exoerienced.

Last week I had a newish P85+ as a loaner while my P85D was being serviced. When I went to the SC to pick up my car there were heavy rains and slight flooding on the highway I was using. The P85+ has the slight twitchiness and fish tailing of a high performance RWD car. Not dangerous, just needed a bit of finesse. Returning in the P85D, by coincidence, there was a new thunderstor m in he same area with more flooding. The D simply proceeded with zero perceived instability. That made me more happy with my choice.
Disclosure: the 21" on the + vs the 19" on my D obviously had a material role in the stability.
 

3mp_kwh

Active Member
Feb 13, 2013
1,137
327
Boston
The D exhibits none of the 'clunkiness' and temporary loss of traction that precedes the compensation from the drivetrain that has been a part of every AWD I have exoerienced.

I take this as additional affirmation, that the D is power-limited by steering angle and velocity.

Last week I had a newish P85+ as a loaner while my P85D was being serviced. When I went to the SC to pick up my car there were heavy rains and slight flooding on the highway I was using. The P85+ has the slight twitchiness and fish tailing of a high performance RWD car. Not dangerous, just needed a bit of finesse. Returning in the P85D, by coincidence, there was a new thunderstor m in he same area with more flooding. The D simply proceeded with zero perceived instability. That made me more happy with my choice.

The problem I see is the D is also sold as a ‘Performance’ car, which generally means one that responds to finesse. I appreciate, too, how I’ve got the pampers on during a thunderstorm, and don't have to worry about standing water so much. But then there is the rest of the time I have the car, and the fact it only has this one mode.
 

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