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Been a subscriber for a couple of years and read the forums regularly but it was time to stop being a lurker and decided to join as I have a question I am hoping someone can help answer.
I have done a couple of HPDE events and now I am looking for a new car which will need to double as a DD as well as a a couple of HPDE events a year.
When I read on the BMW forums about which cars make the best track cars, I understand why they don't recommend the AWD cars. But they seem to think they really suck at it. But yet, there are a ton of Subaru's there that seem to do great.
So whats the difference? Why are the AWD Subaru's (and others) great but an AWD BMW apparently sucks.
I live in the Northeast and the AWD would definitely be beneficial but now I'm questioning the types of cars to look at. My list is already way too long so culling a few off the top probably wouldn't hurt anyway.
Thanks for your help. Rob
From the bmw perspective, the rear wheel drive versions wil in general be cheaper to maintain, and likely perform better. That is mostly where they are coming from.
I run a subaru. AWD is nice, but the weight is a penalty.
Buy what you want. Beat on it and smile. Just know that the cost of ownership of an awd car versus a 2wd car may be a bit more. If you can live with it, go for it. Do the awd bmw's come with a manual transmission?
I think the BMW vs Subie issue is that the BMW can be had in RWD only and the Subie cannot. If the Subie had a RWD only version it would probably be a slightly better track toy.
IIRC the later AWD BMWs don't have LSDs, whereas the "proper" sporty versions did for a long(er) time. Also, with AWD you have a potential for bigger bills and it might well be easier to source go-faster bits for the RWD BMWs.
There is also the question if you want to track your DD or not, so it might be a better idea to find a slightly cheaper AWD car and buy a hooptie track BMW.
So it puts you at a slight disadvantage vs. an identical car in RWD but there's no reason an AWD car can't still be a good track car.
In reply to GameboyRMH: Interesting. Is the "slower off the line" due to weight? I expected that awd traction would offer the opposite (at least in higher powered cars). Think SRT8 grand Cherokees at the drag strip..
Thank you all for the great replies. I think I would actually prefer just a RWD but I've had that before and the winters just are painful.
BoxHeadTim, your suggestion is ideal but I am restricted from having two cars, you know, there is a boss. Plus where I live, my apartment complex only allows two cars per apartment (Sorry honey, you have to sell your car).
I have a coworker that tracks his Legacy GT. Lightly modded but the thing is fast and does well at the track. I had owned a 325xi a few years ago and wanted to give the Bimmer another go. Although I have to say, the xi wasn't particularly great in the snow, the traction control got in the way more than it helped it felt like.
Having said all of that, one car that needs to double as the DD and i will only be doing perhaps 2-4 HPDE's a year so it shouldn't get too much of a hammering. I was just really wondering why the BMW enthusiasts were so down on their AWD vehicles.
I guess I think sachilles is spot on the money. Buy what I want. Track it and enjoy it until I don't enjoy it anymore, then perhaps the track gods will allow me to have that dedicated track machine.
Thanks to you all but I don't think this has helped cull my list.
I "Think": the iX versus non iX BMW comes down to: -increased ride height of the ix
-increased weight of the ix
-lack of limited slip in the ix
-delicate transfer case of the ix
-loss of ability to rotate with the throttle
-smaller following so less development by others to learn from.
MrJoshua wrote: I think the BMW vs Subie issue is that the BMW can be had in RWD only and the Subie cannot. If the Subie had a RWD only version it would probably be a slightly better track toy.
They do now !
OHSCrifle wrote: In reply to GameboyRMH: Interesting. Is the "slower off the line" due to weight? I expected that awd traction would offer the opposite (at least in higher powered cars). Think SRT8 grand Cherokees at the drag strip..
On a track car it's hardly relevant, but AWD cars are generally slower initially because it's harder to get the tires near the limits of traction. Seems counterintuitive but that's what happens. In very high-powered cars where available traction is the limit to acceleration, it's a different story but hard AWD launches are very hard on the clutch.
MrJoshua wrote: I "Think": the iX versus non iX BMW comes down to: -increased ride height of the ix -increased weight of the ix -lack of limited slip in the ix -delicate transfer case of the ix -loss of ability to rotate with the throttle -smaller following so less development by others to learn from.
Do the xis (E46 etc) also suffer from a delicate transfer case like the E30s do?
145 lb isn't that big a weight penalty, and they didn't use the awful Haldex setup. When Audi took the Quattros road racing, and cleaned everybody's clock to the point where they were outlawed, they kinda proved the point that all wheels driven can make a car faster even on dry tarmac and not just on rally stages. The case could be made that the drivetrain isn't as robust, but viscous couplings are fairly forgiving. Once they wear out you end up with an open diff, but it ain't the end of the world. if you are looking for a allround playcar that gets the job done in the snow, I think that car's a good choice. That or prettymuch any soobie or evo. But NOT the first-few-gen Haldex things like what VW used, the "fwd-till-we-think-you-need-awd" setup. That stuff just ain't no good.
Errr, I think we need to keep in mind that 325ix != 325xi.
The former is an E30, the latter is E46-on...
There isn't a lot of aftermarket support for the E30 ix (to put it mildly) although it's probably just about enough for a couple of HPDEs a year.
In reply to Jay_W: Road racing results are hard to judge things by. Rules favor chassis combinations. Audi had the most favorable car for the rule set.
It's really about marketing over engineering. Any drive system can work well for a performance-oriented car (well, OK, FWD presents challenges here), the difference is that BMW designs their highest performance cars to be the ones with RWD, while Subaru (and Audi!) design that into their AWD (and quattro!) ones.
So it's not that AWD cars suck at the track -- it's that AWD BMWs suck at the track. :)
Keep in mind he's doing a few hpde events, not wheel to wheel racing. It needs to be reliable and fun. Less expensive consumables is a bonus.
OP, to answer your question specifically, the AWD BMW E46 front suspension geometry is severely compromised by the need to package around axles and the additional 145lbs of unsprung weight. The rear wheel drive models do not have this flaw, for obvious reasons. The E46 was designed as a RWD platform and an AWD system was grafted on later. Supposedly the difference in steering feel and body roll really is amazing.
The performance suspension bits, or relative lack thereof for the AWD BMWs is only icing on the cake.
I have also heard that the front suspension geometry on the AWD E46s was fairly compromised by the front half shafts.
from what I know of modern BMWs.. only the M varients get LSDs anyway.. so that argument is moot
Still seems like a pretty good track toy if you also wanna use that track toy as a winter go anywhere anytime car, so...but if I had the chance, I'd run something other than a Break My Windows.
I'da suggested a '90 awd Protege, suitably swapped and modified but I hope I'm the only one stoopid enough to actually go that route. Get a WRX and be done with it.
Jay_W wrote: I'da suggested a '90 awd Protege, suitably swapped and modified but I hope I'm the only one stoopid enough to actually go that route. Get a WRX and be done with it.
Considering there are probably no more than a dozen usable GTX transmissions left in North America, that is indeed a terrible, stoopid suggestion
I always thought the WRXs felt kinda flimsy. With how many rusty, beat-up examples I'm finding they seem to be the new DSM equivalent. I'd much rather have an E46 with snow tires. Was about to buy a 330i ZSP/ZCW/ZPP when I decided to save the payments for something else and bought a Saab instead. Maybe next year.
The way people talk about AWD on the internet, you'd think it was some kind of magic. All the FWD-based or front-heavy AWD's ive driven steer like a FWD.
Now, i havent driven any awd that bias torque side to side. Im guessing they're amazing.
If you buy an AWD BMW and use it for HPDE's I think you'll have some fun. You won't be running in front but it's an HPDE, not a race.
My main concern in using a BMW in this fashion would be cost of parts you're wearing out faster via track use and the cost of repairing after any track incidents. It happens. Don't fool yourself into thinking it doesn't. You can get around the track incident detail with some track day insurance supplied by your friendly insurance agents in the back of our favorite car mag - GRM. The cost of consumables cannot be mitigated but by buying a cheaper car or one that consumes less doing track days. That's the reason we all push Miata's harder than Philip Morris pushed cigarettes. The Miata is inexpensive to purchase and lightweight so tires and brakes last comparatively forever.
Don't forget the lovely additional drivetrain power losses of an AWD setup.
Actually, if I were after an AWD car that I could use at the track and to get to work, and one that doesn't feel like a converted FWD car like the Subarus do to me, I'd have a good hard look at an unmolested Evo 8 or 9.
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