What is All wheel drive(AWD) technology for cars? Do we need it for Indian roads?

In the last three or four decades, the technology in the automotive world has progressed by leaps and bounds. The technology, which was considered to be cutting edge, has now filtered down to the mass-production vehicles, within the reach of the common man. All-Wheel Drive or AWD technology is one such technology that has gained popularity in the crossover and light SUV segment. The technology is different from the old four by four or 4WD technology, found in those bulky SUVs. The AWD technology is focused more on providing maximum grip over large road conditions types. So what exactly are the AWD cars or AWD technology for the cars? Does a regular city commuter need this technology? What are the conditions where this technology shone? Let us find out about it in this article. 

“2011 Volvo V60 T6 R-design – NRMA Drivers Seat” by The National Roads and Motorists’ Association is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Difference between AWD and Four-wheel drive

In theory, both these work towards providing the same result, but the technology behind both systems is completely different. The 4WD is a stronger and more rugged brother of the AWD technology. It is manual and has a separate transfer case, to shift between the low range and high range. These systems tend to be more robust and can handle rugged and tough terrains with ease. They can be full-time and part-time systems. On the other hand, AWD cars are much simpler and less complex as compared to 4WD. The main purpose of this system is to split power between the front and rear axles so that the vehicle gets an optimum grip on all road conditions. The technology is targeted towards more urban environments than having a complete off-road condition. 

Benefits of the AWD system

These systems are designed to provide maximum grip on certain road conditions such as snow, slush, and sand. They are provided to fight against the road conditions that are made challenging due to weather conditions, as opposed to complete off-road conditions. The main benefit of this system is that the driver gets more grip in slippery road conditions, and he can save himself from accidents, resulting from a lack of road grip. In tough weather such as snow, the chances of a vehicle getting stuck will be reduced by a huge margin. Apart from tough weather conditions and slippery roads, the system also provides much better stability while cornering, many sports cars such as Nissan GTR and Porsche have AWD systems in them, to provide maximum grip for track days. The system runs in harmony with traction control and ABS, providing good stability.

Do you need an AWD system in your car? 

Now, this largely depends on what kind of terrain and weather conditions you drive in. If you are a regular city commuter that hardly sees any snow or tough rains, then you will be just wasting your time and money purchasing an AWD vehicle. The AWD vehicle is not only heavy but requires extra power to run, leading to a lower fuel efficiency figure. Also, with additional running parts, you will have to pay for extra maintenance too. Some people like to have maximum technology in their cars, but in the longer run, they end up paying more. The only factor going for them is the increased stability during cornering. But cars nowadays have better traction and stability control programs, which can take care of that. So buy an AWD vehicle, only if there is a real requirement for them.


AWD cars are superior, no doubt about it, but you have to see whether you require them, before putting down your money. Some people also have this misconception that having an AWD vehicle will save them from having an accident, which is completely wrong. They can at best assist, in getting a maximum grip. The system still has to follow the basic rules of physics, and it cannot make you invincible on the road. So buy an AWD vehicle only when you have a real requirement for them.