The heavier the vehicle, the greater the advantage of this type of drive
The principle of the front-mounted engine with rear-wheel drive is often still considered to be the best set-up for good driving dynamics, probably also because steering and engine are not coupled to each other. A rear-mounted engine does not have many of these advantages, except as far as the braking is concerned, thus, only the relatively complicated, longer and heavier method, from the engine up front, to the rear axle remains. Other advantages compared with the front-mounted transverse engine: - better weight distribution, - higher towing weight, - a slightly smaller turning circle is possible - a little more leg room in front is possible - more evenly balanced crash behaviour. In the truck-sector, only the light delivery vehicles (LDV) sometimes deviate from the front-mounted engine. The more load a vehicle carries on the rear axle, the higher the demands are on a rear engined vehicle, and the lower they are on a vehicle with the engine up front.
The term 'standard drive' has historical origins
During the development of the automobile, the front-mounted engine with rear-wheel drive was, for many years, almost without competition. This is also where the term 'standard drive' originates. The start of mass production front-wheel drives was in 1931, nowadays, the number of front-wheel drives is far higher than rear-wheel drives. Therefore, the term is actually misleading. The straight-mounted front engine transfers the torque through a coaxial gearbox, a cardan shaft and a rear-axle drive with bevel- and crown wheel to the rear axle. The above figure 2 applies more to a utility vehicle with rigid rear axle. In the passenger car, the cardan shaft with dry joints, is more suitable because the differential is mounted to the vehicle floor.
The engine up front has fundamental advantages.
Regardless of whether the front- or the rear wheels are driven, the front-mounted engine has advantages. Whether or not these advantages apply in the area of accident-injury prevention, is a moot point. What is meant by injury prevention, are the driver and front seat passenger protected when a non-crumpling block of iron is driven into the interior? It is however, an undeniable advantage that the point of gravity is shifted to the front, because e.g., the wind sensitivity is reduced, regardless of the type of car body. In addition, a much greater amount of luggage can also be loaded and by folding down the back rests the compartment can be made even larger.
Problems can arise when driving on ice and snow when lightly loaded
Vehicles of this type have the disadvantage of lower traction, e.g., on snow or ice. This situation however, improves as soon as the the gradient becomes steeper. With the engine in the front, the boot has become more usable through the meanwhile, more compact axle construction and through the relocation of the fuel tank to underneath the rear seating, but as a rule, it's still a little smaller than in a front-wheel drive. 09/12