I think AWD and 2WD might actually be balanced in a weird way

Crazy to claim I know, but hear me out. As I’ve been slowly getting better at both tuning and driving, the gaps between my 2WD builds and AWD ones have been closing. Just recently, my 2WD builds closed the gap completely and started beating my AWD builds when it came to lap times. It started with the 2018 civic, I got a new one and decided to build it 2WD this time. It felt good from the start, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t until I won a race I’ve never managed to win before in a 2WD car that I realized I had a really good build period, not just a good for 2WD build.

I decided to take a crack at two other cars I’ve always wanted to keep 2WD: The R26.R and the Shelby GT350R. In both cases I managed to build tunes capable of beating my previously tuned AWD builds on the car.

I decided to dig into why this suddenly felt possible and I came to a conclusion with multiple reasons.

  1. The threshold for creating a “good” build and tune for 2WD cars is much tighter and more difficult to achieve, by a significant factor. You really need to hunt and tweak for the right balance of all things, which requires time, patience, lots of testing, and inexhaustible funds.

  2. The basic performance graph (Speed, Handling, Acceleration, etc) actively works against the player and lies. This happens a lot when building a 2WD build especially. I’ve seen upgrades that claim acceleration gets worse that make the car accelerate faster, I’ve seen upgrades that claim to make acceleration better that actually make the car worse. I’ve come to the conclusion that the graph is basically of no use at all, especially when making a 2WD build. Use the actual simulation numbers.

  3. Standing starts. I may be beating all of my previous AWD lap times, but in the short races of FH4 the start alone can be enough to more than make up the difference. If FH4 had rolling starts, 2WD may actually be at an advantage.

  4. Conditions. Something I haven’t mentioned yet is that I was most of my testing was on dry tarmac in not winter. The Civic and the R26.R dealt with wet quite well, but the GT350R didn’t fare so well, and required an expert hand to boot. In fact it was only a combination of a bunch of factors (the fact that I’m driving manual and could short shift, the fact that it’s a V8 that responds well to doing that, etc) that I was able to keep it competitive at all. It’s like the balance is set for ideal conditions, which is hardly the majority of what you’re playing. I’m not sure I want that to change, after all, balancing for bad conditions would make AWD less viable in ideal, and I do like AWD and want it to be competitive. It’s a tough choice to make, and I don’t envy the devs who have to make it.

Now there are a couple of arguments against what I’ve been saying. My AWD tunes are older, and like I said, I’ve been getting better at tuning. It’s entirely possible I could go back and rebuild and retune those cars and they would end up back on top. It’s also possible that, just like there is a tight threshold for building a “good” 2WD car, there is also a tight threshold for building a “better” AWD build. Because it’s easy to build something that’s “good enough”, there is less motivation to really dig into AWD builds and find the absolute best solution. But even if both of those things were true I’m confident that the gap between my AWD and 2WD builds will continue to close as I improve (in ideal conditions on tarmac at least).

Sorry if this is all old news for some of you, but I thought it was interesting and worth pointing out.

1 Like

That is interesting. It could be because of a combination of your improved tuning and driving experience. I know my own tunes are much better now than when I first started. Similarly, when I started I found RWD cars harder to drive than AWD so I started out not driving them as much. Now that I’ve grown comfortable with them, I prefer RWD for certain things. In my experience, AWD is more stable, but less maneuverable than RWD, so for circuits I generally go with RWD. There are exceptions, of course. AWD is probably a bit easier to handle, but RWD can offer certain advantages. They take some practice to access, though.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience, and I do agree the performance index is often not very accurate. Transmission upgrades often indicate a loss of acceleration, because I think the upgrade adds gears and the game doesn’t re-arrange them very well so you have to do it manually. I’ve always turned a skeptical eye on the numbers, particularly the 0-60/100 and top speed, which never seem very accurate. I’m still not entirely sure what Handling even measures.

1 Like

What I find strange about the argument is that none of the shared tunes are any good, and if people were so good at making FWD, or RWD so good then why is nobody sharing them? It just makes me think that taking ages over a tune has some sort of delusional effect that you feel you didn’t waste your time.

“I didn’t just waste 2 hours the tune is good!”

Sort of effect.

Anyway you should say RWD, or FWD.

FWD are not as bad as RWD.

But I would say that the game is not programmed properly for RWD. If you turn traction control on they are drivable. Take Motorsport 7 for example, up some hills you can’t stop the cars from spinning with RWD even at 10mph. You turn on Traction Control and they are OK, but you lose lap times. You tune all the cars to AWD, and you win every race almost by a complete lap.

I was directly comparing lap times on the same track in the same conditions, one right after the other. I assure you I was not sandbagging my AWD runs. I tried multiple runs on the AWD builds going all out full focus, because I wanted to make sure the results were not a fluke, but try as I might, I could not match my 2WD tunes for best lap. Now best lap does not equal a better time overall thanks to the standing start, but there was one run in particular that was the cleanest, best lap I could have done in my AWD build, and it was still nearly a second behind my 2WD best lap is the same car, which I had only done one race with. That was with the GT350R on dry tarmac in Autumn, so it was RWD.

Do I think I could pull out more from my AWD tune in that car? Yes. But the fact of the matter is I managed to definitely and soundly beat an AWD tune in S1 with a RWD on the same car.

I also mentioned being a better driver as a factor. You could take my driving skills from a year ago and put them in those races, and I would not have been able to beat the AWD with the RWD.

I’d say there is a slightly false balance between them. RWD and FWD powerbuilds for some cars are ridiculously OP. The road Rivals leaderboards from B to S1 are dominated by RWD cars (Monaco KC, Supra, Dart and Rebel for example).

However, those cars are harder to drive and the poor launch means, at non-ghosted racing, that you have to fight your way through the entire pack to win. Generally, you are going to get slowed down by someone either accidentally or intentionally getting in the way. At long races (Colossus for example) you have no chance in a meta AWD car against someone good in a meta RWD car but the short sprints which generally arise still give the edge to AWD.

Rayne will be better able to comment on the relative merit of RWD to AWD for individual cars.


Not sure I agree entirely with that, but lets say for a moment I did. It brings up an interesting question: Should 2WD get more PI headroom to balance itself in the generally more rough and tumble nature of driving that the FH series presents? I’m of the mind to say no. In my eyes, it’s like giving a team in a sport a point advantage to start a match just because they have shorter players. Some might see it as fair, but it also undermines competitive integrity.

At the end of the day, my preferred solution to the 2WD vs AWD dilemma is to have drivetrain restrictions, even if they were somehow fully balanced with each other (a state which I’m unsure is even possible). As backwards as this sounds, adding more restrictions to the game opens up more freedom in how to play. Sometimes I just want to race RWD only cars.

I only started this thread because I thought my results and conclusions were interesting and worth sharing.

Unless they make RWD a lot easier to drive, there is no way there will be a drivetrain split in any form of competitive racing. 90% of the player population struggle to drive AWD cars at higher classes, let alone compel them to drive something RWD. It would be nice to get it in whatever the equivalent of custom will be in FH5 though.


That’s mostly what I’m talking about. I don’t really care about the competitive part of this game. I do my placements for playlist completion but otherwise play only singleplayer or convoys with friends.

I’m sure you’d get some takers on a 2WD only competitive mode. Heck I’d probably play it for my placements just to ensure a certain quality of driver. However that would probably throw the whole rank system out of whack.

In a non-competitive scenario, there is no need to balance things out - that only matters in competition. And even there “balance” is rather vague; some cars are plain better than others in certain scenarios, some are outright unusable. It all depends on context, but if you’re not competing - what would you balance out, and for what sake? Fun is no balancable thing.

Like I said earlier, I mainly started the thread because I felt my results were interesting and worth sharing. Still it’s nice to have some form of balance between 2WD and AWD. Just like it would be nice to set a drivetrain restriction, it would also be nice to choose to not set a drivetrain restriction and race on a relatively even playing field. Choice is always nice.

I will say though, I bought Dirt Rally 2.0 just under a year ago when it was on sale, and that’s the game I play for my competitive fix. The way it splits up cars just makes so much more sense to me. Thing is I’m not even sure the Forza Horizon series can match that competitive experience in my mind, and I know I don’t want them to try. The reason why Forza Horizon is by far my favourite racing game is because of the open world and open ended freedom the games give you. I’d far rather that experience continued to get worked on and grow than for there to be too much concern over competitive balance and experience. Both would of course be nice, but time and labour being limited things and all…

1 Like

AWD, RWD, FWD … well I’m already wearing out wasd (qa,. in manual) keys with AWD. FWD is fine to certain point, where I simply start to understeer out of the corner. RWD, even B class grip tune gave me problems. Even at drift events I prefer AWD, so my backend doesn’t overtake me …
Yes its balanced if you have excellent control, as RWD will be lighter and more powerful then AWD. But for casual like me, who needs grip to drive well, AWD is my first choice and also last one.

In some classes a well tuned and decently driven 2WD will destroy an AWD. RWD especially is already faster, just most people cannot extract the performance without making a mistake.

1 Like

You didn’t specify how old your AWD tunes are, besides older. It could be a combination of better tuning ability, improved driving ability or tunes changing. Quite often, game updates will drastically alter tunes and how they handle… I have downloaded quite a few 5* rated tunes from 2019 that are pretty awful to drive, Top Speed Evo tunes get nowhere near where they used to. Last year, I drove the Ariel Nomad a fair amount and had an excellent tune for it I found… 6 months later, I went back to it and it was absolutely dreadful to drive despite being the same tune.

Best way to test is to go back and update your AWD tunes and see.

I’ve never had that NM - I’ve always been able to go at least as fast using old tunes, albeit tuning improvements over time mean that 2018/19 tunes are largely outdated now.