We asked for your opinion. We have compiled the most common answers. Here are the five best FWD cars ever made – as voted by DriveTribe users.
A drivetrain usually reserved for basic cars, the cost-effective front-wheel drive system has also proven over the years to be a gem for hot-hatches and other nimble, lightweight cars. Many manufacturers have found ways to make front-wheel drive great, with added limited slip differentials, four-wheel steering – among other technology used to prevent understeer, all whilst retaining an enjoyable experience for the driver.
Here are the five best front wheel drive cars ever made.
05. Honda Integra Type R
Coming in at fifth place is an iconic Japanese lightweight sports coupe; Honda’s prized Type R Integra. Often dubbed Japan’s best handling FWD car on a race track, each iteration of the Integra Type R delivered track performance like no other front wheel drive car. With a base Integra as the shell, extensive modifications were made, resulting in the 1995 ‘DC2’ Type R. There were a long list of changes – including an uprated chassis, lighter components, a limited slip differential and a handcrafted ‘B18C5’ 1.8L VTEC engine with a limiter at 8,600rpm – higher than a 90’s Formula One car. This resulted in a hefty 147kW (197hp) from it’s tiny motor and a 0-100km/h time of 6.9 seconds.
In 2001 the DC5 Type R was released, a new 164kW ‘K20A’ engine fitted, maintaining the same redline, but now managing the 0-100km/h sprint in just 6.2 seconds. Forget engine performance though, as the Integra Type R was never designed nor built to drive in a straight line. If you wanted straights, you’d be better off in a Skyline or Supra. A tight track is where the Type R shone through. Weighing at just over 1,100kg, and fitted with an LSD, this small coupe can only described as a true enthusiast’s car.
04. Alfa Romeo 147/156 GTA
Coming in fourth place, the prized Alfa Romeo 156 GTA and 147 GTA. Launched in 2001 and 2002 respectively, these were the two latest and greatest Alfa flagships to enter the car market. Powered by a 3.2L ‘Busso’ V6, the 184kW (247hp) heart was able to accelerate the cars up to 100km/h in just 6.3 seconds, putting them in hot competition with German rivals. Based off the Type 932/937 front-wheel drive platform and retaining an open differential, the pair didn’t sell as well as their rear and four wheel drive rivals, as the heavy engine paired with FWD upset the driving dynamics.
However – it wasn’t until later, people realised their potential with aftermarket differentials including Alfa Romeo themselves, who released updated 147/156’s with torsen limited-slip differentials. Unfortunately, by then, the GTA models had already ended production. Luckily, most GTA’s have been fitted with the aftermarket ‘Q2’ Quaife LSD by now, and the ones with the modification have been significantly improved in the handling department, turning the GTA into refined and fun car. Ahem sorry, not a car. An Alfa Romeo.
03. Honda Civic Type R
The second Honda(s) to make the list, the remarkable Civic Type R. A high performance version of the popular Civic compact car, the Civic Type R has been a vicious contender in the hot hatch market since its release in 1997. Starting from the beginning, the Civic Type R recieved a similar treatment to the Integra Type R, the early EK9 Type R gaining everything from engine and gearbox to suspension and chassis upgrades, a limited slip differential, cut-back interior, and many other extensive modifications – all in the name of circuit performance and enjoyment.
Since the first generation Civic Type R, there have been four proceeding generations up to the latest FK8. Released in 2017, the current fifth generation Civic Type R features the same engine from the fourth gen, producing 228kW/306hp (235kW/306hp in Europe and Japan) and leading to a 0-100km/h sprint of 5.7 seconds. Achieving a front-wheel drive lap record upon its release with a time of just 7:43.80, the FK8 is easily the fastest Civic Type R ever produced. With class-leading aerodynamics and having only ever been available with a manual gearbox, each and every generation of Civic Type R has been nothing less than a drivers car.
02. Citroën SM
Coming in at second place, the French icon – Citroën DS. It is without a doubt one of the most unique front-wheel drive cars ever produced. A spotlight in French car manufacturing in the 1970s, the SM was released to the public in 1970 to steal the crown from GT cars like the BMW 3.0, Lincoln Continental and Jensen Interceptor, after spending almost 10 years in development. And it did. Powered by a V6 from the Maserati Merak and Khamsin, the SM was hailed as a revolutionary car. The most significant features of the SM were it’s first and one-of-a-kind technology, from ‘hydro-pneumatic’ self-levelling suspension and self-levelling headlights to zero torque steer power steering. the SM was an engineering marvel during France’s golden age of car craftsmanship.
Featuring a 130kW engine, it managed to reach tested top speeds of 235km/h – faster than the V12 Jaguar E-Type – with half the cylinders, making the SM the fastest front-wheel drive car of its time and the fastest luxury grand touring car in its category. The SM was an engineering marvel during France’s golden age of car craftsmanship, and it paved the way for the future of the car.
01. Lancia Fulvia Coupé/Rallye HF
Coming in at a contested first place, Lancia’s iconic Fulvia ‘High Fidelity’. First released in 1965, the Fulvia HF has gone down in history as one of the all time greatest front-wheel drive cars ever made. An incredibly lightweight rally-bred sports car with a unique V4 engine producing a reasonable 98kW (131hp) in its most powerful 1.6 litre form, the HF trounced rear-wheel drive cars time and again, proving that specifications on paper meant nothing – and you didn’t need rear-wheel drive to go fast. With immence corning ability, the Fulvia could attack corners with unbeknown thresholds, at speeds where even its rear-drive competitors struggled and understeered. This was thanks in part to its low weight, perfect balance, complex double wishbone suspension, and immense braking power with disk brakes on all four hubs – a feature not seen on Ferraris or Rolls Royces even 10 years later!
The Fulvia was an incredible contender in the history of rally, winning every Italian Rally Championship from 1965 up ontil 1973, and beating the worldwide competition in 1972. Being Lancia’s first success in rally, the Fulvia shaped the automaker for its future success with the Stratos, Delta and 037 Stradale. It’s a car that’s rich in history, with a fascinating driveline and engine – and it beats an Italian heart – inculcating life around every corner and into every one of its 131 horses. The Fulvia stood up for front-wheel drive, and for that reason, it takes the gold medal on this list.
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