Automotive

Cars with 50/50 Weight Distribution

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  • Mar 25th, 2009 7:28 pm
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Aug 17, 2004
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Cars with 50/50 Weight Distribution

I don't think I have driven a car with 50/50 weight distribution. Supposedly it provides neutral handling that improves acceleration, cornering etc.

Is there a big difference between a car that lacks 50/50 weight distribution over front/real wheels? I believe all BMW cars come standard with this?
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shawn99 wrote:
Mar 23rd, 2009 9:50 pm
.... 50/50 weight distribution. Supposedly it provides neutral handling that improves acceleration, cornering etc.
I would say that it makes an important contribution to the above attributes.

For that "just right feel" it is maybe a necessary but not a sufficient condition.

Not discussed as much as, say, the more noticeable different feel between FWD, RWD and AWD, but you are right that it bears some consideration by serious car shoppers.
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50/50 should help the average driver because it's supposed to provide neutral handling at neutral or no throttle/braking. So theoretically, there's less likelihood of you oversteering or understeering in emergency situations.

but weight distribution can be changed just by driver input... hard braking will make it front biased, hard acceleration rear biased. So yeah, just because you own a car with 50/50 distribution, doesn't mean you'll never spin out or plow straight through a turn.


Or so I was taught.
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I've driven a few cars with near 50/50, and the handling is superb under duress.

Some cars it can be had by just relocating the battery or getting rid of the spare tire.
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I had a 93 rx7, it had 50/50. I drove it on shannonville track, it handled nice. At one point, I came too fast over turn that was on a steep grade. The back end came out (fishtail), and I was able to gain control very easily again with some counter stearing.

Most cars are very close to 50/50 anyway.
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It also depends where the weight is located as well (i.e. moment of inertia). You can have 50/50 where all the weight is at the ends of the car (i.e. like a dumbbell) as well as where all the weight is in the center of the car.

Examples could be a 944 or Corvette where all the weight of the engine in the front is balanced by the transaxle in the back vs. mid engine cars like the X19 or MR2 where all the weight is as close to the center as possible.

The higher the moment of inertia, the harder it is to get the car to rotate. It also makes the feel more stable .
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Jan 19, 2009
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my friends stage 3 sti is close to 50/50.
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Aug 14, 2006
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Supposedly my Mazda MX-5 is 50/50...all I can say is it handles great, just a little body lean, but I will hopefully solve that with some sways. ;)
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Yes, the MX5 is a 50/50 weight distribution, its also got a lower center of gravity so it can turn corners at a much higher speed than a car without 50/50. Other cars like the RX-8 are also 50/50.

My friend has also taken an A3 to track and experienced horrible understeer in corners. In most Audis, they push the engine as far up as possible to the front of the car so it is practically sitting in the nose, making the car front heavy while the back is light.

Pick up trucks are also front end heavy and tend to lose traction in the rear on slippery roads. This is also important when you are considering weight distribution in cars.

Considering where most of the weight of a car is, and whether it is RWD/FWD is important to any car buyer in my opinion. But most often or not RWD provides some of the best handling as the front wheels do not have to cope with turning, breaking, accelerating, and the pressure from shifting the weight to the front of the car in corners which is a lot to ask.

AWD cars tend to be the most 50/50 in weight because of the layout of the transaxle and the awd system itself is practically self balancing, unless of course someone decides to put a very large engine in the front of the car.
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Cars with 50/50 weight distribution have lower moment of inertia, and will spin about their axis more easily. In slippery conditions, combined with RWD, a little bit too much throttle in a turn can induce the back end to start sliding. Much less common on a FWD nose heavy car, but when it does happen, recovery is almost impossible.
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jasonkwan86 wrote:
Mar 24th, 2009 9:42 am
...AWD cars tend to be the most 50/50 in weight ...
Absolutely not true. All the 50/50 cars I know of are rear wheel drive. In fact, even BMWs are not 50/50 when equipped with X-drive, since that adds all the weight at the front of the car.
Audi, Subaru and other AWD cars are in fact quite nose heavy (usually at least 60% nose heavy) mostly because the engine is placed ahead of the front axle as opposed to behind the front axle as in the MX-5, RX-7 or BMW's.
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Are these 50/50 cars when empty?

There are a bunch of other factors which impact the weight distribution in real world situations. If you're driving by yourself, the driver's side will be heavier... and as you use up the gas in your tank, the car's weight will decrease.

With a light car like the Miata, a 200lb driver is 10% of the weight of the car itself.
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BMW boast that it's 323 series is nearly perfectly balanced.
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My C5 Corvette has 50/50 weight distribution, and it definitely handles better than the 5.0 Mustangs and V8 Firebirds I owned prior, those others were more nose heavy cars (around 60/40 roughly) Of course, there is a lot more to handling than just having 50/50 weight distribution, but typically speaking if a car maker goes to that much trouble to get that, they are serious about making a good handling car. In the case of my Corvette, when GM engineers were working on the C5, they put the transmission in the rear in order to achieve that 50/50 balance!
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notanexpert wrote:
Mar 24th, 2009 1:30 pm
Absolutely not true. All the 50/50 cars I know of are rear wheel drive. In fact, even BMWs are not 50/50 when equipped with X-drive, since that adds all the weight at the front of the car.
Audi, Subaru and other AWD cars are in fact quite nose heavy (usually at least 60% nose heavy) mostly because the engine is placed ahead of the front axle as opposed to behind the front axle as in the MX-5, RX-7 or BMW's.
bmw x-drive vehicles are definitely not 50/50. The ride height of the front axle is increased by about 10 mm. Some people have told me that x-drive cars don't take bumps as well as the RWD only 3 series. So the suspension geometry is being affected as bmw has not adjusted the shock ratings or anything. Just increased front ride height to accomodate a front cv, not impressed.
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