BimmerCast #34: AWD & the Death of Fun (Plus E15 & Why You Don\’t Want it in Your Car)

P90068187

[audio:http://www.bimmerfile.com/podcast/bimmercast_34.mp3]

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BimmerCast 34 starts off with the great debate for and against all-wheel drive and quickly moves to why E15 is the worst ideas since… all-wheel drive. Have an opinion on either? Let us know in the comment section below.

Other than that we talk about the X3, diesels and we round out the conversation on the 1M and why I have money down on it already.

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  • ChipDouglas

    I certainly understand the element of skill that is involved to drive in weather, and I also think it depends upon where you live. I believe that cold climates where there is a lot of snow requires all wheel drive. Why are there so many enthusiasts against AWD?

  • goat

    @ChipDouglas- Speaking for myself only, not against AWD, just more for RWD. :). In my own experience I have generally found RWD >> AWD > FWD. I rank on the feel the car has entering and exiting a curve, steering feel, etc. (You can always find horridly driving un-fun examples of each drivetrain configuration, of course.) There is just more you can generally do with a RWD car including in rainy or snowy conditions. That little bit of extra control, that quicker response to inputs, and the steering feel that is entirely uncorrupted by a front driveshaft – that is what keeps many sport sedan drivers in the BMW camp versus say the Audi camp (as nice as the S and RS products are…).

    But like I wrote yesterday, since BMW is offering AWD anyway, I do feel they should “do it right” – tune it at least optionally for sportier dynamics. They will be selling FWD models soon and I am sure will give those their all to preserve the company’s reputation as rewarding driver’s cars (feel + dynamic abilities)… They can take a similar approach to their AWD models.

    @Gabe & Michael – good show guys! Great to hear you both speaking so frankly. 🙂

  • JonPD

    Great show guys, audio is nicely balanced. Looking forward to hearing the next show after the teaser at the end of this one.

    Keep it up guys

  • Frank

    Just think how much gas we could save if we could reverse this awd trend and get all those unknowing buyers to go back to a 2wd car which is all that is needed in most areas. It is very much oversold and overbought. BMW knows that the buyers of these AWD drive cars are not mostly interested in performance therefore they don’t put all the performance options in them like oil coolers as they did on the 335 models. BMW like any car manufacturer that wants to remain profitable has to build cars that consumers want whether or not they are the best for performance or fuel efficiency. Those of us that want mostly performance BMW’s have to thank the awd and luxury bmw owners to keep the company profitable enough to still be able to build a few performance models.

  • goat

    @JonPD – agreed. Definitely oversold and overbought. And since there is no free lunch the weight increase, fuel use increase, and sportiness decrease is”tagging along” on every single kilometer driven! Like barnacles or remoras… 🙂

  • Joe

    Tell us what you really think, Gabe! I’m with you on the all wheel drive thing. But man, I don’t have that much room in my garage for all of those extra tires. One contrarian thought – aren’t tires pretty bad for the environment? If we double passenger tire production, isn’t that a legitimate counterpoint?

    E15 – what a disaster. As far as I can tell, its an agribusiness subsidy wrapped in a patriotic theme. Ethanol is a train wreck public policy decision for the US. Ugh, the car enthusiasts are the tail wagging the dog on this issue.

    X3 – Hey, I like it for most reasons stated. I think the styling adheres too much to the x3 design language. I love that it virtually the same size as the old X3. Lets see if I can convince he wife to get that instead of an Escalade/Yukon monstrosity

    Wow, you’re right about the 180 degree shift on turbocharging. I hadn’t thought that much about it This is why I listen to you guys: you guys are thought leaders in this space

    and… I love the M1, prospectively. Having just got a used 911 C2S, I’m locked in with it, not that I’m unhappy, I love it, but the 1M is where I was looking to go with BMW, before I jumped to Porshe.

    Thanks for a great listen.

  • Frank

    I hope a lot of people listen to this. The really truth a about BMW’s reason’s for putting so many AWD cars in the line up. I would like this ethanol gov’t conspiracy to get a lot more publicity. If they really feel the need to push something on the American people, then it ought to be diesel fuel, not this alcohol which is not much of fuel to begin with, more like a “filler”.

  • goat

    @joe – no essential delta in tire use between all seasons used all year and summer/winters used half the year. When you are on your winters you are not wearing down the summers, and vice-versa… 🙂

    Assuming otherwise identical vehicles (example 335i versus 335xi), AWD means more oil used however (fuel consumption is higher), and more materials refined and manufactured for the AWD mechanicals, so net resource use and associated environmental impact is higher for AWD compared to RWD.

  • adc

    One very strong argument for AWD – the Mitsu Evo IX MR. If you haven’t driven one, you owe yourselves to try it out.

    Then come back and make the same argument against AWD, if you can… =)

  • The other choice would be trying to put all that power down on the road with a strictly FWD Mitsu EVO. The car isn’t comparable to rwd vs awd BMW’s.

  • The other choice would be trying to put all that power down on the road with a strictly FWD Mitsu EVO. I mean FWD versus AWD is not comparable to choosing between RWD vs AWD on a BMW.

  • JonPD

    Depends on the track and the driver adc. I have personally passed a Mistu Evo IX MR on our local track. While the Evo has massive grip the awd did push it wide through most every corner and meanwhile my fwd dropped to the apex and back on the power long before the Evo could. Be sure on a track with higher speed sections it could do horrible things to me but after I passed it the Evo could never quite overtake me. Its a quick car for sure but classic example of the base fact that FWD, RWD, or AWD is all highly dependent on the loosest nut in every car… the driver.

    At the end of the day for me personally if I were take three cars with similar performance,braking, and handling on a track the RWD would be the fastest. I find the communication through the wheel of a AWD interferes with the subtle feedback of what the car is doing.

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  • adc

    JohnPD, I drive an E90 M3 (occasionally on track too) so I am well aware of any advantages RWD may posses. But my point stands, you have never driven an Evo – I’m pretty sure that on track you could have easily reversed the situation were you driving the Evo.

    My first drive in an Evo VIII I was drifting through the first corner out of the dealership, and I sure as hell didn’t want to impress the salesman. It’s a very natural car to drive, feels a lot more like a RWD car in terms of attitude and the steering IMO is better than any BMW I’ve had the pleasure of driving.

  • JonPD

    I agree that likely if we would have traded cars that I would have likely still worked out a way to get in front of the other driver. Still AWD vehicles have the same base issue of FWD. Using the wheels your steering with to drive the car does a lot to hide the driving feel through those wheels. I prefer the precise feel you get through a RWD, also being able to rotate the tail end so easy to point the car where you want it to go. Yes AWD drive cars can be decent but they do have a number of issues. Add to this the base fact that most are bought as a safety device and I generally scorn them.