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      02-15-2016, 11:56 PM   #1
MomoM3
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xDrive vs. Quattro and the rest

Driving my 340i xDrive in the snow today made me think of a few things. This is my first sports vehicle with AWD and I’m more than pleased with how xDrive has handled the snow we’ve gotten so far in the Northeast.

My thought was how does xDrive as a platform compare against Audi’s Quattro or Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD?

I must say a lot of the stability and traction I’m experiencing has to do with the Pirelli Winter Sottozero Serie II’s that I have since even my X5 35i xDrive with all-season tires feels squirrely in this weather. By the way, these Sottozero’s (V-rated version) are amazing… I forget these are snow tires – they perform like a performance all-season. They go, they stop – dry, wet, ice, snow, doesn’t matter, these tires like being used. They’re quiet and they don’t look like knobby snow tires. I haven’t driven on snow tires in over 10 years (last I had were Blizzak which are equally as awesome but floaty) but the Pirelli’s already feel ideal for a sports sedan in the winter. Just hoping these will last longer than 5,000 miles.

Anyway, back to xDrive… Do you think its AWD is as good, worse, or better than tried and true Audi and Subaru platforms? What’s the difference? Opinions from drivers that have driven both?

Last edited by MomoM3; 02-16-2016 at 12:11 AM..
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      02-16-2016, 12:58 AM   #2
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Not nearly as good as subaru's, have had both. BMW system feels like it has to "turn on" and figure out where to send the torque when you start to slip, which in itself upsets the car some. Tires still make a huge difference and BMWs on true winter tires will still be better than Subaru on performance tires.
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      02-16-2016, 01:34 AM   #3
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I just wrote a book on them and the internet ate it. I might rewrite it tomorrow.

tl;dr - Audi's thing is fwd architecture cars with awd and Quattro is more sporty than xDrive. BMW's thing is rwd, motor behind the front axle, sporty, and xDrive is more utilitarian. Subaru's thing is pretty much purely utilitarian.

Last edited by tturedraider; 02-16-2016 at 01:50 AM..
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      02-16-2016, 01:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesNoBrakes View Post
Not nearly as good as subaru's, have had both. BMW system feels like it has to "turn on" and figure out where to send the torque when you start to slip, which in itself upsets the car some. Tires still make a huge difference and BMWs on true winter tires will still be better than Subaru on performance tires.
You must have cat like reflexes. xDrive is always working and makes constant adjustments in inclement conditions. It has the ability to transfer up to 100% of torque to either axle in hundredths of a second. It uses the brakes to send power to the opposite wheel when needed. The normal torque split is 40:60.

Subaru has the ability to direct torque to individual wheels, I think using the awd system combined with the brake system based on what their website says. Their torque split is generally either 50:50 or 45:55, depending on the model.
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      02-16-2016, 01:55 AM   #5
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Between my F31 and Q5, honestly in regular day to day drives the differences are practically imperceptible to me. Tires are far more important but assuming they're the same I personally feel quattro is a bit more competent, a bit more sure footed but also a bit more muted. You get the sense that the car is telling you "don't worry I got this sorted" but doesn't tell you what it's doing. BMW's system is probably a bit less high-tech but as a result I feel like it's a bit more communicative.
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      02-16-2016, 02:17 AM   #6
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Audi has several different system all designated "Quattro." They are not all equal, not at all. To compare xDrive to Quattro you'd need to be more specific. Having said that, in my opinion the rubber makes a more significant contribution to traction than which particular manufacture's system you're using.

I have PSS on my car. On snow and ice, the Quattro system will do very little for me.
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      02-16-2016, 03:42 AM   #7
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It's the tires. I have them too and love them.
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      02-16-2016, 06:29 AM   #8
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A4 quattro models are longitudinal engine setups (same as bmw) and torsen awd. All four wheels are always powered in the audi vs on the bmw defaulting to RWD until it senses a slip. Quattro feels way more planted for me while xdrive is a bit more fun. On an unplowed road with nannies off the audi will tend to drift if I crank the steering wheel and stomp the gas while the bmw will want to turn the tail around. That being said both cars driven sensibly are very safe and get you through pretty much anything.
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      02-16-2016, 09:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blubaron79 View Post
It's the tires. I have them too and love them.
Winters will work better than all seasons, but my XDrive with all seasons is still far superior to any of the RWD or FWD cars I've had shod with winters. I might be concerned with the comparative abilities of Audi and Subaru if I plowed with my car, or drove across the frozen tundra, or did Pikes Peak mid-winter, but I don't.
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      02-16-2016, 09:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by __ View Post
You must have cat like reflexes. xDrive is always working and makes constant adjustments in inclement conditions. It has the ability to transfer up to 100% of torque to either axle in hundredths of a second. It uses the brakes to send power to the opposite wheel when needed. The normal torque split is 40:60.

Subaru has the ability to direct torque to individual wheels, I think using the awd system combined with the brake system based on what their website says. Their torque split is generally either 50:50 or 45:55, depending on the model.
I live in Alaska, so I get the ability to drive it on glare-ice, wet snow, packed snow, freezing rain, etc. In subaru's system, all wheels turn, all the time, at least that's what it feels like. I also drive several AWD vehicles at work. I generally don't find the Xdrive to be better than anything there. I did have a mercedes 4motion from 2004-5 a few years back, that was significantly better and more balanced than my current X-drive. Much more neutral handling, felt like much more even torque distribution all the time, much closer to Subaru.
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      02-16-2016, 09:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billfitz View Post
Winters will work better than all seasons, but my XDrive with all seasons is still far superior to any of the RWD or FWD cars I've had shod with winters. I might be concerned with the comparative abilities of Audi and Subaru if I plowed with my car, or drove across the frozen tundra, or did Pikes Peak mid-winter, but I don't.
This is definitely not the case for me...

AWD cars:
2008 Subaru Legacy GT with Continental ExtremeContact DWS
2016 BMW X3 35i with stock All Season RFT tires

RWD:
2014 335i M Sport RWD with Michelin X-Ice Xi3

The RWD + studless winter tire outperforms all my AWD + all season cars. There's really no comparison. The Subaru and the X3 are a bit better in terms of deep snow but it's not like a sedan is going to go through deep snow like a 4wd pickup truck. You can even argue that Subaru's AWD setup is better for snow/ice than the BMW xDrive since it is a locked 45:55 split front and rear axles. It also has a viscous limited slip rear differential compared to the BMW's open differential.
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      02-16-2016, 10:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokerface View Post
A4 quattro models are longitudinal engine setups (same as bmw) and torsen awd. All four wheels are always powered in the audi vs on the bmw defaulting to RWD until it senses a slip. Quattro feels way more planted for me while xdrive is a bit more fun. On an unplowed road with nannies off the audi will tend to drift if I crank the steering wheel and stomp the gas while the bmw will want to turn the tail around. That being said both cars driven sensibly are very safe and get you through pretty much anything.
xDrive powers all four wheels all the time. It splits power/torque 40:60 in normal operating conditions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesNoBrakes View Post
I live in Alaska, so I get the ability to drive it on glare-ice, wet snow, packed snow, freezing rain, etc. In subaru's system, all wheels turn, all the time, at least that's what it feels like. I also drive several AWD vehicles at work. I generally don't find the Xdrive to be better than anything there. I did have a mercedes 4Matic from 2004-5 a few years back, that was significantly better and more balanced than my current X-drive. Much more neutral handling, felt like much more even torque distribution all the time, much closer to Subaru.
Fine. Regardless, as stated above, xDrive powers all four wheels all of the time with a 40:60 power split until xDrive senses the need to shift the power around, based on road conditions.
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      02-16-2016, 10:09 AM   #13
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Per CNET, Subaru uses at least four different versions of Symmetrical AWD.
http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/no...created-equal/
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      02-16-2016, 10:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by __ View Post
...
tl;dr - Audi's thing is fwd architecture cars with awd and Quattro is more sporty than xDrive. BMW's thing is rwd, motor behind the front axle, sporty, and xDrive is more utilitarian. Subaru's thing is pretty much purely utilitarian.
I just want to point out that Subaru is a FWD-based design. They initially sold both FWD & AWD versions, and made a purely marketing decision to sell only AWD in the US/CA.

All that is being said is ok. In theory, the Audi and Subaru systems are theoretically "better", since they never waste energy in the braking system like BMW's ADB/electronic diff. However, the amount used ("wasted") is so slight - especially where you should be off-throttle anyway - that it's a bit of a nonsensical argument. And since all systems now have DSC that "wastes" energy it doesn't matter much in any case.

There are plenty of videos out there comparing the three cars. Everyone wins.

And in the final analysis: "Having AWD/4WD just means you get stuck further into the woods/down the road."
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      02-16-2016, 11:09 AM   #15
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Really just depends on what you want. If you want something that is more RWD focused and acts as such the xdrive is better. "Real Quattro" Audis are great, the Haldex FWD stuff is good for fuel economy but you're driving a FWD car most of the time. Benzes are all different too. CLA 4matic is FWD based whereas the C450 I just drove is 33/67. So as others have mentioned it's not as easy to lump a particular brand all together. All of them have pros and cons.
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      02-16-2016, 11:13 AM   #16
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I just go weeeeeeeeeee....XDrive & Michelin X-Ice Xi3 on....just have fun. No issues yesterday as I was driving...just the damn traffic..
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      02-16-2016, 11:49 AM   #17
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I live in snow belt part of the province and have both Subaru and bimmer Xdrive so I use them on a daily basis. Xdrive is good when there a bit of snow and hold its own good, Subaru on the other hand doesn't care how much snow there is. It just goes thru everything. I've tried making Subie slide but was never successful. There's something to be said about AWD all the time, it always feels safe and needless o say, when weather gets really bad, it's Subie that we take to drive...
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      02-16-2016, 02:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokerface View Post
A4 quattro models are longitudinal engine setups (same as bmw) and torsen awd. All four wheels are always powered in the audi vs on the bmw defaulting to RWD until it senses a slip. Quattro feels way more planted for me while xdrive is a bit more fun. On an unplowed road with nannies off the audi will tend to drift if I crank the steering wheel and stomp the gas while the bmw will want to turn the tail around. That being said both cars driven sensibly are very safe and get you through pretty much anything.
I thought xDrive is a permanent AWD system? That is what it is according to BMW website.
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      02-16-2016, 03:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by venom4065 View Post
I thought xDrive is a permanent AWD system?
It is. Normally most of the power goes to the rear wheels, but it will send more to the front if it detects the need.
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      02-16-2016, 03:34 PM   #20
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In rankings of AWD systems that I've used I'll rate them as this:

Subaru-BMW-Audi/MBZ

Most Quattro vehicles I've seen have had warranty repairs on the AWD. Granted the BMWs have some transfer case issues too, my STI had 0 AWD problems with 525whp.
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      02-16-2016, 03:36 PM   #21
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As others have noted most manufacturers have several different 4wd/AWD systems offered so an apple to apple comparison is difficult, I think Jeep currently has 13 different systems. I'm waiting on a 340i xDrive so I can't comment on it but I'm in a Subaru now, before that always had 4x4. As far as on highway winter driving my Suby with Auto Trans is better than my Jeep with Quadratrac and the Jeep was better than the "regular" 4x4 SUV's and Pick-ups that came before it. Having said that put the wrong tires on any of them and you are asking for trouble. Here is some information that helped me decide to give the BMW system a try. http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/a-...ve-technology/
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      02-16-2016, 03:45 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexandertg21 View Post
In rankings of AWD systems that I've used I'll rate them as this:

Subaru-BMW-Audi/MBZ

Most Quattro vehicles I've seen have had warranty repairs on the AWD. Granted the BMWs have some transfer case issues too, my STI had 0 AWD problems with 525whp.
Now only if Subaru could design better interiors...
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