Think four-wheel drive or even all-wheel drive and you think of Land Rover or Land Cruiser, but AWD is in fact available if not standard on a huge number of cars. Subtly installed in some vehicles that would never give it away from the outside like a Subaru XV which has a very competent permanent all-wheel drive system. Approximately 30% of new cars registered over the last twelve months have been four-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive.
At first, its easy to assume that this flies in the face of car manufacturers being encouraged to achieve better and better economy figures and lower and lower CO2 outputs. Four wheel drive, even part-time, needs additional weight with additional drive shafts and clutches. But maybe, just maybe all is not as obvious at it first appears.
Part time four-wheel drive, for example the commonly used Haldex system used by VW, Skoda, Volvo, Ford and Land Rover in the Evoque drive the front wheels all the time and the back wheels only when required. The drive train additional weights are minimal and in fact the economy figures of the two and four-wheel drive models are minimal.
A Toyota hybrid and the Honda hybrids are front wheel drive petrol engine driven but the electric motor drives a rear wheel, no different to a part-time four-wheel car. These cars are unashamedly eco cars and future plans of hybrid electric/petrol cars all apply the same philosophy.