This Hot Hatch Faceoff Proves AWD Doesn't Always Make a Car Faster

It might help with grip and stability, but all-wheel-drive also adds weight and complexity.

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Lately, more carmakers have been fitting all-wheel-drive systems, and for good reason. It promotes stability when on the move, provides more grip, and gives people peace of mind in bad weather. But all of that performance comes at a cost, in the form of complexity and added weight. All-wheel-drive has its merits, but its drawbacks could be costing you more time on track than you think.

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Take this head-to-head video from , for instance. It pits two of Europe's best hot hatches, the all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Golf R and the front-wheel-drive Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R, against each other. At first glance, it seems obvious the Golf R should be faster around the circuit thanks to its superior horsepower (292 hp vs just 275 for the Renault) and AWD grip. But, once each car sets a lap, it's the Renault that comes out on top.

The reason? Weight and complexity. The Renault, unlike the Golf, doesn't have to lug around any sort of rear-driven axles or drive shaft, nor does it have to worry about distributing power to all four wheels. The result is a simpler, faster setup. Watch for yourself and see why the most advanced option isn't always the best one.

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