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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not a hot-rodder, but one of the reasons I bought the more powerful 2nd generation xB with a 5-speed was for the pleasures of negotiating winding mountain roads at semi-irresponsible speeds. My previous car was a 1st generation Mazda Miata, and I'm having trouble adjusting to the 8/10ths handling characteristics of front-wheel drive compared to the rear-wheel drive Miata.
Of particular concern: I've read that with front drive, if you let off the accelerator in a fast corner, you're asking for trouble. Late-trail braking is the same thing.
End-swapping on a narrow mountain road is not my idea of a feasible learning experience.
Practicing on a huge and empty parking lot would be nice, except there is non available in my area.
Any and all suggestions will be welcomed, especially if they're based upon personal experience.
Thanks.
Yodar
 

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I've hit some of the winding roads here (upstate NY) and really haven't had any problems,. Mine is an auto, I'm usually in 3rd so I can use the the engine instead of the brakes. My average speed when hitting some of them is around 60. I'm actually surprised the way she hugs the road. Only rides I had that came close were my Skyline and RX7.
 

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Royal Floor Sweeper
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What he is asking is HOW to best drive a front wheel car, as opposed to the REAR wheel one he has been driving.

I would answer, but I'm not sure either. I know how to drive a Miata fast and a BMW very fast, but both are RWD. SO, I don't know the best techniques for FWD, but need to learn and practice . . .

I did find:
http://www.modernracer.com/tips/frontwheeldriveoversteer.html
http://www.geocities.com/prohibition_us/fwd.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxG2M2PcM8c (Top Gear - FWD vs RWD vs AWD with Vicki)
 

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Oh opps. Thats what I get for speed reading and not paying attention. Ok the basics from my experiance.

What you have to remember with a FWD vehical is that your power is in the front where you steer. You lose your your grip on the front wheels you loos your ability to control the vehical. This is one of those things that gets me everytime someone tells me that a FWD vehical is better in the snow. Its not. Just what happens is when the front wheels spin in the snow the back doesn't slide out. And for most people when the back slides out they freak. When the fronts break loose no one freaks giving a sense of stability, but in a crucial moment when you need turning control you don't have it.

Now about cornering. When acclerating in a turn something to keep in mind is that speed of the wheels can change the turning ration even if you don't move the wheel. If you keep this in mind and are prepared for the effect, you can anticipate how to adjust when you let off the wheel. This can actually work to your benefit if you learn how your xB reposnds to this.

Now as far as braking. This is a bad thing. Its a bad thing regardless of FWD or RWD. Braking in a corner is dangerous, and mostly due to the front doing most of the stoping while the back not so much. So the back is still moving faster then the front and wants to keep going. If you have to emergancy brake on a curve then by all means do so, just be prepared. If you need to brake in a turn to slow down or you see a stop comming after you have gotten into the curve, let your foot off the gas first and coast as much as you can before hitting the brakes. The more you slow down before hitting the brakes the better. The only real way to combat this issue would be to have a brake controler installed so you can adjust how much force is given to the front and rear brakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Interesting feedback ...
I'll try again:
1- 3rd gear in an automatic is about the same ratio as 4th gear in a 5-speed. I NEVER drive 8/10th in 4th gear through a curve because I'd be doing about 80 mph (unless I paid no attention to engine revs). That's way too fast on roads with blind curves (you know: bicyclists, deer, other cars, Martian spaceship that had to make an emergency landing).
2- There are times when I'm at 8/10Th's in a curve (3rd gear) and I realize I'm a bit too hot for my personal comfort zone. With a rear-wheel drive car that handles well I can briefly let off the gas and settle the car down to where I want it to be. Or I can tap the brakes and accomplish the same thing (that's what late-trail braking is).
3. I've read that doing either of those two things in a front-wheel drive can ruin a driver's day (assuming that swapping ends or suddenly leaving the road will ruin your day).
So, any more ideas?
Yodar

Addendum:
TartanJack listed three web sites to read on the subject of cornering in a FWD. The middle one (Geocities) was really excellent. Unfortunately, it confirmed my fears; doing what is instinctive is invariably the WRONG thing to do when driving a FWD car too fast around a curve. Because my history of sports cars includes Jaguar XK 120, two Triumph TR-3s, a Porsche 356, and a Mazda Mata (all used cars when I bought them), my instincts are probably too ingrained for me to do the opposite in a sudden and critical situation.
And yet, I still want to wring out more of the handling potential of my xB. But how?
For example: does anyone know what happens when you corner your xB hard enough at 30-60 MPH that the tires squeal? Do you still have a safety margin? Or are you already beyond that margin when the tires squeal?
As I said earlier, the curvy roads in western Oregon have no runoff room, so I'm hesitant to try until I have a better idea of what to expect.
Yodar
 

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Well I don't know what else to tell you. The majority of my vehicals owned were RWD. So I have had to learn new tricks in FWD. First time I came around a corner fast and tapped the brakes I scared the **** outta myself. NEVER did that again. I actually got to the point where I don't go full into a turn till I see how its going then I hit the throttle. Not sure what advice to give you at this moment as most of my FWD time was in a Jetta with heavily modded suspension. It didn't handle like your average FWD car. My xB as it is now isn't even stock. I haven't pushed it yet cause I was waiting on springs. Maybe this next week or so I will give it a little more umph on the corners and see what happens.
 

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Royal Floor Sweeper
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Sounds like "on the gas easily" (feathered on and steady) is the way to do it. Not stomping or lifting. Break before the turn and easy on the gas or it will "push" badly.

In comparison to a RWD, it sounds like an FWD needs much more gas pedal to remain stable and to "lift" is a VERY bad thing to do in a corner.

Is that about right?



Oh, and I once read an old article of someone trying to learn driving fast on a track by following a Mini in and MGB. The guy's driving coach said "bad idea, those things drive weird" (in reference to FWD).

I need to pay much more attention to how Minis drive fast . . .
 

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TartanJack said:
Sounds like "on the gas easily" (feathered on and steady) is the way to do it. Not stomping or lifting. Break before the turn and easy on the gas or it will "push" badly.

In comparison to a RWD, it sounds like an FWD needs much more gas pedal to remain stable and to "lift" is a VERY bad thing to do in a corner.

Is that about right?
Not quite. Gas is a good thing with FWD. If you wanna speed up add the gas. If you wanna slow down lift off the gas. Don't brake unless you have too and be prepared to control the vehical. In fact if you feel your not taking the turn tight enough, but don't wanna change the steering angle then hit the gas. If you feel your steering is too tight and you wanna widen out then lift off the gas.

Now when I say lift I don't mean completely. Just as much as you need. You can adjust steering this way in order to keep a steady grip on the wheel. Its because the wheels in the front pull instead of push.

I will also mention that we are also talking about the xB. Even with a lowered stance and tighter handling(swaybar etc) the xB sits higher then most cars. So its going to give it a bit more swing because of height.

I definatly plan to do some experiments when I get my springs and swaybar in place. Like I have stated before, my wider rims, wider offset, and better grip tires have made a huge change.

Man this thread makes me wanna go out and hit some curves hehe.
 

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eviljack said:
TartanJack said:
Sounds like "on the gas easily" (feathered on and steady) is the way to do it. Not stomping or lifting. Break before the turn and easy on the gas or it will "push" badly.

In comparison to a RWD, it sounds like an FWD needs much more gas pedal to remain stable and to "lift" is a VERY bad thing to do in a corner.

Is that about right?
Not quite. Gas is a good thing with FWD. If you wanna speed up add the gas. If you wanna slow down lift off the gas. Don't brake unless you have too and be prepared to control the vehical. In fact if you feel your not taking the turn tight enough, but don't wanna change the steering angle then hit the gas. If you feel your steering is too tight and you wanna widen out then lift off the gas.

Now when I say lift I don't mean completely. Just as much as you need. You can adjust steering this way in order to keep a steady grip on the wheel. Its because the wheels in the front pull instead of push.
That is basically what I meant by "feathered" gas-> slightly more to sharped, slightly less to broaden.

I will also mention that we are also talking about the xB. Even with a lowered stance and tighter handling(swaybar etc) the xB sits higher then most cars. So its going to give it a bit more swing because of height.

I definatly plan to do some experiments when I get my springs and swaybar in place. Like I have stated before, my wider rims, wider offset, and better grip tires have made a huge change.
HAHAHA :lol:
I know. I have a Miata with wider rubber, uprated sways, Koni shocks, slight drop, and near perfect corner balance for when I REALLY want to push corners . . . So, "ultimate performance" isn't my aim. When I want to "play fast" in corners, I'll use the MX-5.

That said, I would like the xB to be good, even if it isn't something one would use to be "great" . . .
So far, it has impressed me and been much better than I would EVER had anticipated.
Oh, and the "next" car on my list to look at (when I bought Scalded Cat) was a Mini Clubman (which would have been black and yellow and named "YellowJacket"). After driving the xB, I just couldn't see spending another 4-5 grand.

Also, knowing HOW to drive a particular car 9/10 is GREAT to know! Sometimes it can "save one's bacon" and help AVOID an accident entirely.

Man this thread makes me wanna go out and hit some curves hehe.
EXACTLY my plans for tomorrow afternoon! Just north of me, there is a nice twisty road that has a series of sharp 90 degree lefts that are also PASSING ZONES! So, there are 2 lanes going up, as well as one coming down. Also, the lefts are looking into an open are and the rock wall is to the right. So, you know EXACTLY what is on the other side of the corner. Of course, now that bicycles are starting to use this road too . . . you MUST be careful. I slow WAY down for the blind corners and am prepared to pass the bikes on the passing zones, using the left-hand lanes as one SHOULD.
Oh, and the "challenge" is to stay in the LEFT lane and use the right one as a "caution"/help lane to be used ONLY for a small screw up.
I know of several guys that use this road to "test" suspension/tire alterations. It is VERY predictable and fun.
 

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Man tartan you are making me jealous. I can't even go out today casue I gotta help set up for the wedding shower. One of these days I may have to come visit you and we go driving the xB;s on the corners.

I have definatly been taking it easy in the xB due to the nature of my Jetta. I had it set up so nice I could take turns at speeds I never would have in a FWD. I know the xB will never be to the jetta level. Although I read the specs. According to the specs the xB has better handleing then the Jetta. This is based on them having equal weight, but the xB having better turning and handling specs. Only problem is the height, which sets the over all balance off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great feedback, gentlemen, and thanks.
But I also wanted to know about tire squeal at fast cornering speeds. Any feedback on that?
One reason I'm concerned about cornering too fast is because a couple of times I've taken a corner and felt a sudden "pucker-tightening," which usually indicates imminent danger (unless I recently ate a large bean burrito). Yet there was no tire squeal to give warning (stock tires- but they're H rated so I'm keeping them).
I guess I'm looking for some advance-warning system to go by as I try to improve my abilities to corner faster in a FWD.
So, squealing tires?
Yodar
PS For some reason my keyboard and spellcheck are causing me to make ridiculous writing mistakes. I aporogize.
 

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Sorry yodar I should have been more clear. I don't know about tire squeal becuase I have yet to push my xB that far. I may do some test this week and see how far I can push it and get some tire squeal. Only problem is I may not get the same experiance as you since I don't have the stock tires. TartanJack should probalby be the one to test those limits out.
 

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What about stability control? I mean I know that you WANT to stay in control of the car, but if you push it too far isn't the stability control gonna take control of gas and brake from you? ( I know that's no guarantee of not hitting the martians that made an emergency landing :eek: )
 

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I am still "learning."
Today I met one of the guys from the local Scikotics who owns first gen xB. He thought he could keep up, but was very wrong.
Oh, and the light pops up first and it "dings" only when in danger of tail-swing.
I am working on cutting out the "dings" on curves. I got better, but it still happens more than I would like.

I'll get better, eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey, guys,
This is getting good.
More on stability control if you can, especially as it applies to cornering.
Even though the xB is a low-end fun-car, I was of the impression that the purpose of all stability control was for sensors to apply braking to the appropriate wheels when they begin to lose traction. Am I wrong about that?
Also, my pucker-problem might be related to stability control kicking in, with me having no idea of what it's supposed to feel like (although I didn't think I was going that fast through the turns).
Yodar
 

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Um ok I feel like and idiot now. It was my understanding that the more expensvie the car the more extensive the stability control. I didn't figure the stability control in the xB was that complex as the one in my Jetta was not. I haven't pushed it hard enough to make it ding. I guess I need to try harder. :rofl: :rofl:
 

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eviljack said:
Um ok I feel like and idiot now. It was my understanding that the more expensvie the car the more extensive the stability control. I didn't figure the stability control in the xB was that complex as the one in my Jetta was not. I haven't pushed it hard enough to make it ding. I guess I need to try harder. :rofl: :rofl:
MAN!

I made mine "ding" a few times each "run" (I made 6 up and 6 down-> the road isn't that long).
The last two had less than the second and third. Of course, the second run was slower and I INTENTIONALLY did it wrong just to see what happened (made it "push" and ding a BUNCH).
I can say this, Toyota put a HECK of a lot of work to make this car an "idiot-proof" fun car. It isn't perfect, but I remain rather impressed (so was the guy that rode with me for those 2 runs).

Oh, and my car is BONE STOCK except for 225/50/15 Riken Raptor tires.
A sway bar should be a MAJOR improvement. It should keep the rear planted more.
I'd be curious what the front upper "strut brace" would do . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hey, Eviljack,
No reason to feel like an idiot; you may be right. I would certainly expect stability-control on a BMW M-3 (for example) to be more sophisticated than it is in our humble-but-fun xBs. The question seems to be : "Is the basic function of all stability-control to apply selective braking to help maintain traction?" I'll do some more research on that.
Yodar
(Later): 20 minutes of research indicates that the whole traction-control/stability-control/ABS thingie is a complicated technological can of worms.
New xBs have all three systems.
ABS serves the purpose of reducing the tendency of the wheels/tires to skid during hard braking.
Traction-control is primarily to maintain traction when starting to move (especially important in snow or ice) by reducing the tendency of the drive wheels to spin.
Stability control - called VSC in the xB --(this is the one most directly related to cornering): When in doubt, re-read the owner's manual like I just did (P.117): Stability-control coordinates the ABS and the VSC and the engine to prevent loss of traction while driving (that includes selective braking).
Is all this shedding light to anyone? I'm not sure it's helping me figure out how to corner faster.
Yodar
 
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