Why don’t automakers design front-wheel-drive cars with the transaxle in front of the engine? This moves the front wheels forward and improves weight distribution; offers better potential for aerodynamics and leaves space under the hood for pedestrian protection. With a turbo four-cylinder, the engine could have clearance from the firewall. Also, the engine and transaxle could be mounted on a pivoting subframe, hinged at the front, to drop down at the back for major maintenance; disconnect steering and exhaust to drop cradle.
The engine would sit in the space where rack and pinion generally resides; steering gear design would be a challenge for direct mechanical actuation. Perhaps traction would be reduced. Would crashworthiness also be affected?
Interesting query! I’m happy to play devil’s advocate to your modern-day Cord powertrain layout:
- Potential aerodynamic benefit is eliminated via pedestrian safety regulations. Larger front fascias increase surface area in contact with humans, thereby reducing physical damage from knee-bending.
- Head protection isn’t likely, thanks to our cab forward designs — more cab, less hood and a greater chance the pedestrian’s head still slams somewhere needing 10 cm of space above the engine intake manifold.
- Hinged subframes bring crashworthiness concerns. While I can’t google up proof, subframes are designed to prevent the engine from intruding into the passenger compartment in a head-on collision. They normally move down and/or under the firewall, and a hinge introduces a fail point in something that must not fail.
- Not concerned about steering system interference; most vehicles use electric steering now.
- V-shaped engines would be tough in this configuration. Perhaps one day we can have a V6 engine renaissance. Perhaps it will lead to something deliciously looney like a second-gen LS4. That’s not likely with this design.
This is probably another case of automakers doing their jobs by not reinventing the wheel, by protecting us from what we want. But hey, if it worked on the Cord …
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