Most of the cars that are sold in India are front-wheel drive and manufacturers tend to keep it that way because there are a lot of advantages of front-wheel-drive cars over the rear-wheel-drive ones. The front-wheel-drive cars have all the mechanical parts such as engine, transmission, wheels, and differential in the front. The trend of front-wheel-drive cars was started by 1959 Austin Mini and it has been continued ever since.
Here are some reasons why manufacturers choose to stick with this configuration:
The rear-wheel-drive cars are more complicated because the engine is placed in the front and then the power has to be transmitted to the rear wheels which requires the addition of more parts such as a propeller shaft. The power then has to transmitted from the shaft to the rear wheels which require a rear differential. Whereas in the front-wheel-drive cars there is no need for such complicated parts because the engine is in the front and only the front wheels are being driven.
Affordable for both the buyer and manufacturer
The front-wheel-drive cars are more affordable to manufacture because there are fewer mechanical parts involved. Rear-wheel-drive cars have a rear differential and a propeller shaft which sends the power to the rear wheels. These parts are expensive to manufacture and are more complicated than front-wheel-drive cars. As the front-wheel-drive cars cost less to make, the manufacturers can place them in the market at a much more affordable price and competitively which is beneficial for the buyers.
The maintenance of front-wheel-drive cars is less because it has fewer mechanical parts when compared to the rear-wheel-drive ones. The cost of maintaining a rear differential is high and as there is no transmission tunnel for the propeller shaft also means it means less chance of wear and tear.
More cabin space
Manufacturers have been trying to liberate as much space inside the cabin as possible. But the huge transmission tunnel in the center of the car eats up a lot of cabin and foot space. You can see this in cars that are manufactured by luxury manufacturers because many of them are rear-wheel drive. But in front-wheel-drive cars, there is no requirement of having a transmission tunnel because there is no propeller shaft going from front to rear.
This liberates a lot of space inside the cabin and the passenger sitting in the middle seat will be able to sit a lot more comfortably when compared to the rear-wheel-drive cars. Also, the front-wheel-drive cars come with a transversely mounted engine which helps in keeping the hood of the car small and freeing up space in the front half of the cabin.
More fuel efficiency
The fuel efficiency of front-wheel-drive cars is more than the rear-wheel-drive cars. This happens because some power is lost at the propeller shaft and rear differential which decreases the overall efficiency of the engine in rear-wheel-drive cars. Also, the front-wheel-drive cars have fewer mechanical parts which help in reducing their weight. Less weight means better fuel economy.
The parts for the front-wheel-drive car are generally cheaper and smaller when compared to a similar rear-wheel-drive car. The front-wheel-drive cars are also engineered more efficiently which means there are fewer parts and less repair. More parts in rear-wheel-drive cars mean more chances of problems and failures.
The front-wheel-drive cars have a natural advantage when it comes to grip in a slippery condition. This is because the weight of the engine on the front wheels presses them to the ground thus increasing the grip. The rear-wheel-drive cars will lose traction much more easily in places with rain, mud, or snow because the car will kick its tail out even to the slightest throttle inputs.
These are some of the reasons why the manufacturers have been using the front-wheel-drive architecture for so long time. Yes, the rear-wheel-drive cars can be more fun but manufacturers have proved that the front-wheel-drive cars can also be fun. The Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen GTI, Skoda Octavia RS, and the Ford Fiesta ST are some of the famous examples that are front-wheel drive and immense fun to drive.