Early four-wheel drive (4WD) systems had a fairly simple remit: improve a vehicle’s ability to move forward when the going gets tough. The expression ‘going forward’ was taken very literally.
Engineers were focused on improving longitudinal dynamics, which in simple terms meant sending power to all four wheels to help vehicles climb steep inclines. Tier 1 supplier Magna has been developing such systems for the last 60 years or so, and in the early days found that improved grip came at the loss of efficiency. Lateral dynamics was also completely out of the picture at this stage, and the industry eventually turned its attention toward all-wheel drive (AWD) technology….