I've been pondering the A8's recent poor showing in the C&D luxury sedan comparison, Audi's relative position in the automotive hierarchy, as well as the many discussions on the list regarding the relative merits of quattro AWD in the dry and it occurs to me that Audi should consider returning to rear wheel drive on their base cars.
The normal advantages of front wheel drive are packaging and traction. In Audi's case (A3 excepted) there is no packaging advantage to FWD since the engines are mounted longitudinally and accomodations have to be made for a tunnel for the rear drive shaft in quattro models. People that are truly concerned about traction have a superior option in quattro. So why stick with FWD?
If Audi is ever going to be a serious player in the near luxury class in the US (outside of the snow states) I contend that a switch to RWD is needed. Even such bastions of FWD as Toyota and Nissan reached this conclusion with the LS400 and Q45. Even as a diehard quattro enthusiast I would have a tough time deciding between a 200 lb. lighter, RWD A4 1.8t and a quattro version of the same car. I happen to live in Colorado so I suspect I would still choose the quattro, but if I lived in LA I'm not so sure.
Anyway, food for thought...and doesn't a RWD TTs Spyder sound like a blast?