Front, rear and central engine: what are the differences?

Front, rear and central engine: what are the differences?

Front, central or rear: do you know what type of engine your car has and what are the main differences between them? This is of fundamental importance, as the type of engine and the position it occupies in the car influence several points related to the drivability and the price of the vehicle itself.

Just to introduce the subject, a curiosity about one of the types of engine — the front one. This is the most used type in cars all over the world, especially in the most popular ones. The main reasons are the ease of construction and the lower manufacturing cost compared to the others.

Now that we’ve engaged the first gear on the subject, let’s, then, show the differences between front, rear and central engine.

front engine

One point that makes the front the favorite of most car manufacturers is that its dimensions are smaller, and this ends up directly impacting the space left over for the trunk, an important demand for customers in this segment with more affordable prices.

If, on the one hand, it is more advantageous due to the lower price and the freeing up of space in the back of the car, on the other hand, it compromises weight distribution considerably. This point can be problematic, as it has a direct impact on handling, especially on cars that also have front-wheel drive.

This combination makes the tendency to understeer greater, that is, the front of the car ends up escaping the ideal trajectory and the car only returns to ideal control when there is a decrease in acceleration. This problem is more common in cars that have the so-called transverse front engine. In this configuration, the cylinders, 4 or 5 in most models, are placed in a row and positioned between the front wheels, occupying less space.

The other type of front engine is the longitudinal, also called front center. In this variation, normally present in cars with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, the cylinders (usually 6 or 8) are located from the front to the rear of the car, and the gearbox also changes places, starting to be mounted at the back.

Some cars in the Gran Turismo segment, such as the Mercedes AMG-GT, combine front-engined and rear-wheel drive and, unlike those with front-wheel drive, do not suffer from handling.

In this configuration, the front axle has the mission of directing the car correctly in the curve, while the rear axle drives the wheels and divides the forces, making driving sporty and safe.

rear engine

The rear engine, as the name implies, is located at the rear of the vehicle, after the rear axle. It is important not to confuse cars with a rear engine with those with a so-called rear center engine. The rear central engine differs from the first configuration in that it is mounted between the front seats and the rear axle of the car.

The first configuration is one of the oldest in the automotive segment, it was one of the outstanding features of the Beetle and is still used in models from traditional brands, such as Porsche, in the 911 line, and Lamborghini.

One of the main features of rear engine cars is that they allow more weight on the axle they drive. In addition, they tend to be more efficient when braking, as they have sturdier brake discs and calipers.

In the case of cars with a mid-rear engine, such as the new generation of the Chevrolet Corvette, the focus is on the dynamic performance of the car, and the strong point is the center of gravity, which favors entry into curves at high speed, despite the rear having a tendency to “run away” a little on the way out.

Motor central

Cars with a central engine are the most used in cars considered sports, whether they are V6, V8, V10, V12, with 6 cylinders in line or opposite, and even with a W16 under the hood, like the coveted Bugatti Veyron.

The key point of this configuration is the weight distribution, which can be 50% on each axle or, in some cases, 60% at the rear and 40% at the front. The main negative point is that they tend to be difficult to maintain, as they may even require complete disassembly of the rear of the car.

To make up for it, mid-engined models make up for it in terms of agility in curves, traction force and, of course, the power of acceleration, as in the cases of the Ford GT or the Porsche Cayman.

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