Here is an interesting test and comparison of winter driving in front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) car on snow.

Tyre Reviews recently had an opportunity to test a Tesla Model 3 Performance on a test track. This version of the car is dual-motor, all-wheel-drive.

However, thanks to the Track Mode, the driver can change settings of power distribution between the front and rear in 10% steps, including 100% rear or 100% front. This allows testing the same car with FWD, RWD and AWD (50/50) settings.

* Despite FWD/RWD settings, the car still might use the other axle, for example, to accelerate faster.

"Please note we were unable to do traction testing as the Tesla defaults back to AWD when the car is straight, even if it's set to 100% rear wheel drive mode only. This will come at a later date."

Each of the three settings was tested on the track at -7°C on a car fitted with all-season tires (Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4).

As it turns out, the lap times are similar between the FWD and RWD, while AWD is slightly faster:

  • FWD: 101.3 seconds
  • RWD: 99.1 seconds
  • AWD (50/50): 94 seconds

More important are the insights. FWD is considered boring, but safe. The RWD is very enjoyable and turned out to be marginally quicker. The AWD is also nice and provides the best driving capabilities.

More about tires:

"Ordinarily the Model 3 Performance fits 20” wheels, Michelin have modified their car to accept the base OE 18” wheels which we used for the testing.

Also, the OE 18” tire size is 235/45R18, whereas we were only able to get 245/40R18 tires in time for this test. We ran the tires at the OE pressure of 42 psi."

Is AWD enough for snow?

Speaking of tires, one might wonder whether AWD with all-season tires is good enough for winter driving. Well, it was not presented, but in a previous Tyre Reviews' video, we can see a comparison of conventional cars (Mini Countryman S) with:

  • AWD and all season tires (Goodyear Vector 4Season Gen 3)
  • FWD and winter tires (Goodyear UltraGrip Performance+)

The results show a huge advantage for AWD (all-season tires) in terms of accelerating, driving and starting uphill, while the winter tires (FWD) are better in terms of braking and turning.

It would indicate that AWD and all-season tires would be enough as a basic solution, especially if the winter period is relatively short and if the speed on snow is limited and in flat areas (not much downhill braking).

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