Which is better 4wd or 4x4

When all-wheel drive is worthwhile : Through the winter on four wheels

White snow and blue sky - most people are happy about such weather in winter. Especially if you are on a skiing holiday, you will hardly have any objection to a closed snow cover. It looks completely different when you sit in the car. Because then snow and ice quickly turn the ride into a slide.

The biggest problem with snow and ice is traction. "The coefficient of friction on a dry road is around 0.8 mu (µ)," explains Hans-Ulrich Sander from Tüv Rheinland. "With ice it is only around 0.2 µ." That means: The tire can only transmit a little power. Drivers of rear-wheel drive cars notice this particularly quickly. Compared to front-wheel drive vehicles, there is comparatively little weight on the axle. The result: the wheels spin even faster on the slippery road surface. “This is why owners used to often put sandbags in the trunk in winter,” says Hubert Paulus from ADAC.

Off-road vehicles and SUVs are in second place with 19% new registrations

In modern cars with rear-wheel drive, this is usually no longer necessary due to better weight distribution. But if you want to be on the safe side in the cold season, you should better rely on all-wheel drive. “That can have real advantages in winter,” explains Sander. Because four tires bring more power to the road than two driven wheels. "You can also get up a mountain much faster with a vehicle like this in winter," explains Paulus. And a 4x4 car often makes better progress when cornering quickly.

An advantage that more and more drivers are apparently appreciating. Off-road vehicles and SUVs, which are traditionally equipped with all-wheel drives, are usually ahead in the statistics of the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) on new registrations. In October alone, both segments together had a share of 19 percent. Only cars in the compact class sold even better with a share of around 27 percent.

All-wheel drive doesn't just have advantages

“Most of them don't buy an SUV because they want all-wheel drive,” says Tüv expert Sander. “For many, the high seating position and the associated good view and a better feeling of security are decisive.” This is why many SUVs are also sold without 4x4 technology.

Because the all-wheel drive not only has advantages: further technology is required so that the power can be brought to all four wheels. “You need additional drive shafts, an additional gearbox and an additional clutch,” explains Paulus. This usually increases the weight of the vehicle, which is one of the reasons why consumption often increases. "All-wheel drive vehicles can consume half a liter to a liter more per 100 kilometers," says the ADAC expert.

In addition, new car buyers often have to dig deeper into their pockets for all-wheel drive. The Audi Q3, for example, currently costs 29,600 euros as the cheapest version with front-wheel drive, according to the manufacturer. Anyone who wants the quattro version pays at least 33,950 euros. There is, for example, the cheaper Dacia Duster, which is available with two-wheel drive from 10,690 euros. For the all-wheel drive variant, however, at least 15,390 euros are due.

All-wheel drive drivers often overestimate themselves when going downhill

Therefore, buyers should carefully consider whether they really need all-wheel drive. "All-wheel drive is always an advantage if you want to pull heavy loads, for example a caravan, a boat or a horse trailer," explains Paulus. Even those who live in the mountains can often cope better with it. An off-road vehicle is not a prerequisite for this. Because no matter whether VW Multivan, Opel Insignia or BMW 3 Series - almost every manufacturer offers at least some of its models a 4x4 drive. Some manufacturers such as Subaru even have an all-wheel drive variant in their range for almost all models.

However, the following applies: Even all-wheel drive drivers should not blindly trust the technology, recommends Dekra. All-wheel drive offers drivers more stability on slippery roads. They are not a substitute for careful driving. "When you have reached the top, you will have the same problems in the four-wheel drive vehicle as any other driver," says Tüv expert Sander. Because downhill the all-wheel drive offers no advantages. However, drivers of large SUVs often forget this. “At first, many were driving too fast in their large SUVs and then got off the road,” Paulus observed himself. Because even in the all-wheel drive vehicle, the following applies: The laws of physics cannot be overridden. (dpa)

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