Plus fours

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Plus fours

Sir,

In his report of the Swedish Rally, GP asked who wants four-wheel drive.

Well, I do. Having had experience of two 4wd Ford Sierras and, currently, a 4wd Citroen BX, I cannot consider ever buying 2wd again (and certainly not front-wheel drive). 1

admit that, for sheer driving pleasure, I use my Austin Healey 3000, but for work I travel all over the UK, and for that I need safe, fast motoring.

One or two things need to be said. I refer only to permanent 4wd, and neither off-road activities nor caravan towing are of any interest. Of the road test

reports I have read, the testers often refer to a lack of power, which is nonsense. Any difficulty in provoking wheelspin or tail out cornering is nothing to do with lack of power, but the result of applying it all in the right place.

Although on the several occasions I have found myself motoring in the snow, all-wheel drive has of course been fantastic, but I would not buy 4wd for those few hours of pleasure alone.

The overriding effects of 4wd are that I can apply power without considering wheelspin or axle tramp, nor is there any dire effect on the steering. The consequences are that I can follow a car into a bend apex at a higher speed because I can corner faster. This means that I can be past the car in front in the first part of the following straight. Without 4wd I cannot floor the pedal until I am lined up on the straight and the car in front is already gaining speed. With 4wd I can floor the pedal as soon as I can see a clear road

even if 1am still in the corner. I am not happy passing vehicles in the second half of the straight and only just before the next bend.

I do not need to use as high a stop speed as I would in an otherwise similar front-wheel drive car, because I can go through the corners without slowing down so much.

I spend less time on the wrong side of the road because cars that I pass are not yet up to their cruising speed when I overtake.

(find it quite usual to be following two or three cars which I cannot pass until we all get to a roundabout, when it is easy to hold back on the approach and then pass on the exit before they have got going again.

In 40 years of motoring one very big change is the way we all come out of side roads and gateways. Traffic coming out of side roads now holds up vehicles approaching from the right to a degree which was unacceptable but is now common. There are many times when to wait for a gap when turning on to the road would mean never moving off at all. With 4wd I can get into almost any gap, because I can turn the wheel left and floor the pedal without any ensuing drama, such as locked steering or screeching tyres. Therefore I am at the traffic speed almost immediately and those behind do not have to slow down

to accommodate me.

In addition, 4wd gives me confidence because the car goes where I want it to. Camber changes, puddles or fluctuating surfaces can be largely ignored.

The ideal combination is 4wd and ABS. Try a gravel drive, starting from rest, slam the accelerator and then the brake. Look back and the gravel has hardly moved. That is safety. It might be dead boring, but it is quick. ND Bos,

Wisbeth, Combs.

Some of what you say is right up to a point, but you have rather oversimplified the issue. Many two-wheel-drive cars are nowadays so well sorted that, on dry surfaces at least, they will respond just as urgently as their four-wheel-drive equivalents. And that without taking into consideration traction control systems, which are now increasingly available on sports models Ed.