Historically, this designation was used regardless of whether the entire engine was behind the front axle line. In recent times, the manufacturers of some cars have added to the designation with the term front-mid which describes a car where the engine is in front of the passenger compartment but behind the front axle. Most pre-World War II front engine cars would qualify as front-mid engine, using the front-mid designation, or on the front axle.
This layout is the most traditional form, and remains a popular, practical design. The engine which takes up a great deal of space is packaged in a location passengers and luggage typically would not use. The main deficit is weight distribution — the heaviest component is at one end of the vehicle. Car handling is not ideal, but usually predictable.
In contrast with the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout (RWD), the FWD layout eliminates the need for a central tunnel or a higher chassis clearance to accommodate a driveshaft providing power to the rear wheels. Like the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout (RR) and rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout (RMR) layouts, it places the engine over the drive wheels, improving traction in many applications. As the steered wheels are also the driven wheels, FWD cars are generally considered superior to RWD cars in conditions where there is low traction such as snow, mud, gravel or wet tarmac. When hill climbing in low traction conditions RR is considered the best two-wheel-drive layout, primarily due to the shift of weight to the rear wheels when climbing. The cornering ability of a FWD vehicle is generally better, because the engine is placed over the steered wheels. However, as the driven wheels have the additional demands of steering, if a vehicle accelerates quickly, less grip is available for cornering, which can result in understeer. High-performance vehicles rarely use the FWD layout because weight is transferred to the rear wheels under acceleration, while unloading the front wheels and sharply reducing their grip, effectively putting a cap on the amount of power which could realistically be utilized; in addition, the high horsepower of high-performance cars can result in the sensation of torque steer. Electronic traction control can avoid wheel-spin but largely negates the benefit of extra power. This was a reason for the adoption of the four-wheel-drive quattro system in the high performance Jensen FF and Audi Quattro road cars.
Early cars using the FWD layout include the 1929 Cord L-29, 1931 DKW F1, the 1948 Citroën 2CV, 1949 Saab 92 and the 1959 Mini. In the 1980s, the traction and packaging advantages of this layout caused many compact and mid-sized vehicle makers to adopt it in the US. Most European and Japanese manufacturers switched to front wheel drive for the majority of their cars in the 1960s and 1970s, the last to change being VW, Ford of Europe, and General Motors (Vauxhall - UK and Opel - Germany). Toyota was the last Japanese company to switch in the early 1980s. BMW, focused on luxury vehicles, however retained the rear-wheel-drive layout in even their smaller cars, though their MINI marque are FWD.
There are four different arrangements for this basic layout, depending on the location of the engine, which is the heaviest component of the drivetrain.
The earliest such arrangement was not technically FWD, but rather mid-engine, front-wheel-drive layout (MF). The engine was mounted longitudinally (fore-and-aft, or north-south) behind the wheels, with the transmission ahead of the engine and differential at the very front of the car. With the engine so far back, the weight distribution of such cars as the Cord L-29 was not ideal; the driven wheels did not carry a large enough proportion of weight for good traction and handling. The 1934 Citroën Traction Avant solved the weight distribution issue by placing the transmission at the front of the car with the differential between it and the engine. Combined with the car's low slung unibody design, this resulted in handling which was remarkable for the era. Renault is the most recent user of this format - having used it on the Renault 4, and the first generation Renault 5, but it has since fallen out of favor since it encroaches into the interior space.
The 1946 Panhard Dyna X, designed by Jean-Albert Grégoire, had the engine longitudinally in front of the front wheels, with the transmission behind the engine and the differential at the rear of the assembly. This arrangement, used by Panhard until 1967, potentially had a weight distribution problem analogous to that of the Cord L29 mentioned above. However, the Panhard's air-cooled flat twin engine was very light, and mounted low down with a low centre of gravity reducing the effect. The air-cooled flat twin engine of the Citroën 2CV was also mounted very low, in front of the front wheels, with the transmission behind the axle line and the differential between the two. This became quite popular; cars using this layout included the German Ford Taunus 12M and the Lancia Flavia and Fulvia. This is the standard configuration of Audi and Subaru front-wheel-drive vehicles. In 1979, Toyota introduced and launched their first front-wheel-drive car, the Tercel, and it had its engine longitudinally mounted, unlike most other front-wheel-drive cars on the market at that time. This arrangement continued also on the second-generation Tercel, until 1987, the third generation received a new, transversely mounted engine. Other front-wheel-drive Toyota models, such as Camry, and Corolla, had transversely mounted engines from the beginning on.
The 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado (along with its sister models the Cadillac Eldorado and Buick Riviera) used a novel arrangement which had the engine and transmission in a 'side-by-side' arrangement with power being transmitted between the two via a heavy-duty chain, and a specially designed intermediate driveshaft that passed under the engine sump. This family has the distinction of being the highest engine capacity (8.2 L) front-wheel-drive vehicles ever built. The Saab 99 and “classic” Saab 900 also used a similar arrangement. The Eagle Premier used a similar powertrain arrangement found in the Renault 21 and 25 – later becoming the basis for the Chrysler LH sedans produced until the 2004 model year.
Today, Audi is the most prominent user of this mechanical layout, having used it since the 1950s in its predecessor companies DKW and Auto Union, and it can be found in its larger models from the A4 upward. The latest evolution of the format in Audi's MLB platform attempts to address the long-standing drawback of uneven weight distribution. This is done by packaging the differential in front of the clutch, allowing the axle line to be further forward in relation to the rear face of the engine block.
The first popular transverse engined FWD cars were the DKW 'Front' made from 1931, which had a twin cylinder two-stroke engine. Saab copied this design on their first car, the 1949 Saab 92. The Trabant in 1957 was also one of the only cars to have a transverse mounted engine, being a sort of DKW precursor. This was a novelty, especially for a car being made in a communist country.
Issigonis's Mini of 1959 and related cars such as the Maxi, Austin 1100/1300 and Allegro had the four-cylinder inline water-cooled engine transversely mounted. The transmission was located in the sump below the crankshaft, with power transmitted by transfer gears. Other models that used the "transmission-in-sump" layout included the Datsun 100A (Cherry) and various applications of the PSA-Renault X-Type engine such as the Peugeot 104 and Renault 14. The 1955 Suzuki Suzulight also introduced a front engine with a transversely installed two-stroke twin-cylinder engine (using DKW technology) in a city car/kei car application, based on the German Lloyd LP400.
Dante Giacosa's Autobianchi Primula of 1964, Fiat 128 and Fiat 127, put the transmission on one side of the transversely mounted engine, and doubled back the drivetrain to put the differential just behind the transmission, but offset to one side. Hence the driveshafts to the wheels are longer on one side than the other. This located the weight just a bit in front of the wheels. It is this system which dominates worldwide at present.
Front-wheel-drive vehicles tend to suffer from torque steer under heavy acceleration. This is caused by differing drive shaft lengths which in turn results in different incident angles at the joints of the driveshaft. The farther these joints are articulate, the less effective they are at delivering torque to the wheels.
In front wheel drive vehicles, the drive shafts transfer the drive directly from the differential to the front wheels. A short inner stub shaft is splined to the differential side gear and an outer stub shaft is splined to the front wheel hub. Each stub shaft has a yoke, or housing, to accommodate a universal joint, at each end of a connecting intermediate shaft.
Universal joints let the shaft keep rotating while allowing for changes due to suspension movement, such as shaft length and horizontal angle, and shaft angle as the steering turns. Constant-velocity universal joints are normally used to transfer power smoothly between the components. The inner universal can be a plunge or tripod type joint. The tripod is splined to the intermediate shaft and held by a circlip. A ball, supported on needle roller bearings, is fitted to each post of the tripod, and these slide in a trunion inside the yoke. This caters for changes in shaft length and horizontal angle. The drive is transferred through the trunion and balls to rotate the shaft.
The outer universal joint allows greater angular changes but not changes in shaft length. It is normally a ball and cage type with an inner race splined to the intermediate shaft. An outer race is formed in the yoke. The cage retains the balls in location in grooves in both races. The balls transfer the drive from the shaft to the hub and allow for changes in horizontal angle and for a wide steering angle to be achieved. A flexible rubber boot fitted to each joint retains grease and keeps out dirt and moisture.
Where the differential is not located in the center line of the vehicle, an intermediate shaft can be fitted to maintain equal length drive shafts on each side. This keeps drive shaft angles equal on both sides and helps prevent steering irregularities and vibration. The outer end of the intermediate shaft is supported by a bearing secured to the transaxle case and a universal joint assists with alignment. In some cases a longer drive shaft is used on one side. A rubber dynamic damper may be fitted to absorb vibrations.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer is a subcompact executive MPV (M-segment) produced by the German manufacturer BMW since August 2014, and marketed as part of the 2 Series lineup. It is the first front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout vehicle sold under BMW vehicle brand, designed to compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Sales commenced in November 2014.
xDrive is offered, as an option. The design is based on the BMW Concept Active Tourer, and is mechanically related to the MINI Countryman, also built by BMW.Buick Verano
The Buick Verano is a front engine, front-wheel drive layout, four-door, five passenger, entry-level luxury compact car manufactured by General Motors for its Buick brand at the Orion Assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan, and in China by GM's Joint Venture with SAIC Motor, SAIC-GM (also called Shanghai GM). The Verano debuted at the North American International Auto Show on January 10, 2011, during a preview of Buick's then upcoming 2012 model. It is the first compact marketed by Buick in the United States since the 1998 Buick Skylark. Verano is Spanish for summer.The Verano—along with the Buick Excelle GT, which was developed for the Chinese market and produced in China and the European Opel Astra / UK Vauxhall Astra sedan, which was presented at the 2012 Moscow International Automobile Salon—shares General Motors' Delta II platform with the Chevrolet Cruze and the corresponding MPV models, Chevrolet Orlando and Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Tourer.Car layout
The layout of a car is often defined by the location of the engine and drive wheels.
Layouts can roughly be divided into three categories: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Many different combinations of engine location and driven wheels are found in practice, and the location of each is dependent on the application for which the car will be used.Citroën Visa
The Citroën Visa is a five-door, front-engine, front wheel drive supermini manufactured and marketed by Citroën from 1978 to 1988 in gasoline and diesel variants. 1,254,390 examples were ultimately manufactured over a single generation, with a single facelift (1981). China has also assembled the car as the Liuzhou Wuling LZW 7100 minicar. Production started in 1991 and finished in 1994.
Citroën commissioned Heuliez to produce a Visa convertible variant, marketed as the Decapotable (1984), and a box van variant (1985–2005) was marketed as the Citroën C15. A sedan variant was prototyped but never manufactured.Drive wheel
A drive wheel is a wheel of a motor vehicle that transmits force, transforming torque into tractive force from the tires to the road, causing the vehicle to move. The powertrain delivers enough torque to the wheel to overcome stationary forces, resulting in the vehicle moving forwards or backwards.A two-wheel drive vehicle has two driven wheels, typically both at the front or back, while a four-wheel drive has four.
A steering wheel is a wheel that turns to change the direction of a vehicle. A trailer wheel is one that is neither a drive wheel, nor a steer wheel. Front-wheel drive vehicles typically have the rear wheels as trailer wheels.Ford Courier
The Ford Courier name has been used on a variety of automobiles produced by Ford between 1952 to 2013.Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout
In automotive design, an FR, or front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout is one where the engine is located at the front of the vehicle and driven wheels are located at the rear. This was the traditional automobile layout for most of the 20th century. Modern designs commonly use the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout (FF).Front mid-engine, front-wheel-drive layout
In automotive design, a Front Mid-engine, Front-wheel-drive layout (sometimes called FMF or just MF) is one in which the front road wheels are driven by an internal-combustion engine placed just behind them, in front of the passenger compartment. In contrast to the Front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout (FF), the center of mass of the engine is behind the front axle. This layout is typically chosen for its better weight distribution (the heaviest component is near the center of the car, lowering its moment of inertia). Since the differences between the FF and MF layouts are minor, most people consider the MF layout to be the same as the FF layout.
However, the mid-engined layout uses up central space, making the resulting vehicle rather long. This may be why no manufacturer currently offers the MF layout.
Examples of road cars using the MF layout include the Acura Vigor, Cord 810, BSA Scout, Citroën Traction Avant, Citroën DS, Renault 4 (and derivatives R5 and R6), Renault 16, Saab Sonett mk1, and the Citroën SM, also some commercial vehicles like the Tempo Matador. These vehicles have longitudinal mounted engines; transverse engined vehicles are possible in theory if the issue of passenger footwell location is addressed. The Toyota iQ comes close to this by having its front differential in front of the engine, however despite this, the iQ is still considered to have an FF layout. One of the main disadvantages of front mid-engine, front wheel drive is the greater torque steer these cars have, compared to regular front wheel drive cars.
Traditionally, the term mid-engine has been reserved for cars that place the engine and transaxle behind the driver and in front of the rear axles, as in the Lamborghini Countach or Ferrari Testarossa, but an engine placed in front of the driver's compartment but fully behind the front axle line also qualifies as mid-engine.Glossary of automotive design
A glossary of terms relating to automotive design.
Some terms may be found at car classification.IAME Justicialista
The Institec Justicialista was a line of cars produced by the government of Argentina through its IAME (Industrias Aeronáuticas y Mecánicas del Estado) from 1954 to 1955 as an early attempt to form an Argentine automotive industry. It used a front engine front wheel drive layout with a two-stroke two-cylinder engine derived from a German DKW design, and a conventional metal body. Due to the insistence of General Peron to have a sports car version made, a fiberglass two seat version was available as a coupe or roadster and featured a 1.5 liter air-cooled Porsche flat-four and a Porsche four-speed gearbox driving the front wheels. When General Peron was overthrown in 1955, the project was abandoned leading to the gradual disappearance of the Justicialista. It was later briefly revived as the short lived Wartburg powered Graciela. Overall, the line was sparingly produced and had few sales but was considered important because of its symbolic value to Argentina.Lexus ES
The Lexus ES (Japanese: レクサス・ES, Rekusasu ES) is a series of compact executive, then mid-size luxury/executive cars sold by Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota since 1989. Seven generations of the sedan have been introduced to date, each offering V6 engines and the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout. The first five generations of the ES were built on the Toyota Camry platform, with the sixth generation more closely related to the Avalon. Manual transmissions were offered until 1993, a lower-displacement inline-four engine became an option in Asian markets in 2010, and a gasoline-electric hybrid version was introduced in 2012. The ES was Lexus' only front-wheel drive vehicle until 1998, when the related Lexus RX was introduced, and the sedan occupied the entry-level luxury car segment of the Lexus lineup in North America and other regions until the debut of the Lexus IS in 1999. The ES name stands for "Executive Sedan". However, some Lexus importers use the backronymic name, "Elegant Sedan".Introduced in 1989, the first-generation ES 250 was one of two vehicles in Lexus' debut lineup, the other being the flagship LS 400. The second-generation ES 300 debuted in 1991, followed by the third-generation ES 300 in 1996, and the fourth-generation ES 300/330 in 2001. The first- through fourth-generation sedans shared body styling elements with Japan-market Toyota sedans, and a domestic market equivalent, the Toyota Windom, was sold until the launch of the fifth-generation ES in 2006. The word "Windom" is a combination of "win" and the suffix "dom" expresses a state of perpetual victory. The fifth-generation ES, featuring Lexus' own L-finesse body styling, debuted in early 2006 as a 2007 model. The sixth-generation ES debuted in the first half of 2012 as a 2013 model, and features increased cabin dimensions due to a longer wheelbase which is shared with the full-size Toyota Avalon.
Lexus has positioned the ES in the comfort luxury segment, with an emphasis on interior amenities, quietness, and ride quality, in contrast with more firm-riding sport sedans. Buyers seeking more performance-focused models are targeted by the Lexus IS and rival makes, with such models offering a sportier drive with differently tuned suspensions. In Europe, Japan, and other markets where it is not available, the GS sport sedans occupy the mid-size category in the Lexus lineup. In the United States, the Lexus ES has been the best-selling Lexus sedan for over fifteen years.Nissan Cherry
The Datsun Cherry (チェリー), known later as the Nissan Cherry, was a series of subcompact cars which formed Nissan's first front-wheel drive supermini model line.
The Cherry featured the front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout. The Cherry line includes the E10 and F10. Nissan's direct successor was the Nissan March/Micra. Although the third generation of this platform was renamed March/Micra, the "Cherry" name proved popular in Europe, so it was transferred to the larger Nissan Pulsar line for Europe.
In Japan, the Cherry was exclusive to Nissan Cherry store locations.
On the UK market, it debuted just before the company's surge in sales, which saw it sell just over 6,000 cars in 1971 and more than 30,000 the following year. Although its successor was launched in 1974, such was the original model's popularity on the UK market that it was not replaced there until 1976.Rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout
In automotive design, an RR, or Rear-engine, Rear-wheel-drive layout places both the engine and drive wheels at the rear of the vehicle. In contrast to the RMR layout, the center of mass of the engine is between the rear axle and the rear bumper. Although very common in transit buses and coaches due to the elimination of the drive shaft with low-floor bus, this layout has become increasingly rare in passenger cars.Suzuki FB series engine
The Suzuki FB engine is a series of two- and three-cylinder two-stroke engines that was produced by the Suzuki Motor Corporation from October 1961 until November 1987. They were used in a number of Kei-class automobiles and light trucks. From the original air-cooled 359 cc straight-twin version the FB series developed through a number of different models having different names, ending with the water-cooled, three-cylinder LJ50. The names used for various versions of this engine often refer to the chassis code of the cars in which they were introduced, until Suzuki changed their engine naming system sometime in the first half of the 1970s.Three-wheeler
A three-wheeler is a vehicle with three wheels. Some are motorized tricycles, which may be legally classed as motorcycles, while others are tricycles without a motor, some of which are human-powered vehicles and animal-powered vehicles.Volkswagen Beetle (A5)
The Volkswagen Beetle (also sold as the Volkswagen Coccinelle, Volkswagen Maggiolino, Volkswagen Fusca in some countries) is a small family car manufactured and marketed by Volkswagen introduced in 2011 for the 2012 model year, as the successor to the New Beetle launched in 1997. It features a lower profile while retaining an overall shape recalling the original Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle.
One of Volkswagen's goals with the model was to give it a more aggressive appearance while giving it some stylistic aspects reminiscent of the Type 1. This was an attempt to distance the new model from the New Beetle, produced from 1997 to 2011, which never approached the success of the first Beetle.The second generation "new" Beetle shares the "A5" (PQ35) platform with the current generation Volkswagen Jetta and is built alongside the Jetta, Golf Variant and the old Jetta ("Clásico") at Volkswagen's plant in Puebla, Mexico. It is longer than the previous New Beetle at 4,278 mm (168.4 in) and also has a lower profile, 12 mm (0.5 in) lower than its predecessor, and 88 mm (3.5 in) wider. The trunk is now 310 L (11 cu ft), up from 209 L (7.4 cu ft).
A convertible version followed the coupé for the 2013 model year, first shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2012 when it also went on sale.Head of Technical Development for VW, Frank Welsch, indicated at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show that this would be the Beetle's final generation.On 13 September 2018, Volkswagen announced that the Beetle will cease production in July 2019.Volkswagen Group MQB platform
The Volkswagen Group MQB platform is the company's strategy for shared modular design construction of its transverse, front-engine, front-wheel-drive layout (optional front-engine, four-wheel-drive layout) automobiles. Volkswagen spent roughly $60bn developing this new platform and the cars employing it. The platform underpins a wide range of cars from the supermini class to the mid size SUV class. MQB allows Volkswagen to assemble any of its cars based on this platform across all of its MQB ready factories. This allows the Volkswagen group flexibility to shift production as needed between its different factories. Beginning in 2012, Volkswagen Group marketed the strategy under the code name MQB, which stands for Modularer Querbaukasten, translating from German to "Modular Transversal Toolkit" or "Modular Transverse Matrix". MQB is one strategy within VW's overall MB (Modularer Baukasten or modular matrix) program which also includes the similar MLB strategy for vehicles with longitudinal engine orientation.MQB is not a platform as such, but, rather, a system for introducing rationality to different platforms that have transverse engines, regardless of the ten body configurations the company manufactures for any of its eleven vehicle brands. Thus MQB coordinates a core "matrix" of components across a wide variety of platforms — for example, sharing a common engine-mounting core for all drivetrains (e.g., gasoline, diesel, natural gas, hybrid and purely electric), as well as reducing weight. The concept allows different models to be manufactured at the same plant, further saving cost.
Ulrich Hackenberg, chief of Volkswagen’s Research and Development (Head of Audi Development until 2015), called MB a "strategic weapon."Volkswagen Up
The Volkswagen Up (stylized as Volkswagen up!) is a city car, part of the Volkswagen Group New Small Family (NSF) series of models, unveiled at the 2011 International Motor Show Germany (IAA). Production of the Up started in December 2011 at the Volkswagen Bratislava Plant in Bratislava, Slovakia.The production Up follows a series of concept cars, starting in 2007 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The exterior was originally designed by the Brazilian designer Marco Pavone. This design was chosen and enhanced by Volkswagen Group Chief Designer Walter de'Silva, and Head Designer of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars marque, Klaus Bischoff. Shown at the Frankfurt launch were several further Up concepts, including a 98 hp (73 kW) GT version, a natural gas-powered Eco-up! (with CO2 emissions of 79 g/km) and a four-door Cross model.Where the Up concept used a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, the 2011 production model has a front-engine, front-wheel drive layout, using the NSF platform, with a 3-cylinder 1.0 litre petrol engine. A battery electric version, called E-up, was launched in autumn 2013.
The Up won the 2012 World Car of the Year.
The SEAT Mii and Škoda Citigo are rebadged versions of the Up, with slightly different front and rear fascias, and are manufactured in the same factory.In February 2014 Volkswagen introduced a modified version of the Up for Latin America. The Brazilian-built Up differs from its European counterpart in length (it is 65 mm (3 in) longer), thanks to revisions to the floorpan's rear section to accommodate a larger fuel tank (50L instead of Europe's 35L), a full-sized spare wheel and increased cargo space. All versions have revised tailgates with a painted metal section (like the Seat Mii's and Škoda Citigo's) instead of the dark glass trim used in Europe. The 5-door Brazilian Up also uses a different rear door design with sectioned glass and wind-down windows. The South American model retains the European version's safety levels with a five-star crash rating and ample use of high-strength steel elements.In July 2015, Volkswagen introduced a new powertrain for the Up sold in Brazil, using a 1.0 L, direct fuel injection three-cylinder turbocharged engine. At the Geneva Motor Show in 2016, the model sold in Europe received a facelift and the new TSI engine, that went on sale in the summer the same year.