A mid engine car is a vehicle placed in the middle of its chassis. Mid-engine vehicles make up less than 10% of all the automobiles produced in the world.
The benefits of a mid engine car are better weight distribution and handling. Weight is centered right over the driven wheels, increasing traction and reducing the tendency to oversteer or understeer when accelerating or braking.
A mid engine design can also allow for a lower center of gravity, increasing stability and allowing for more incredible cornering speeds.
The disadvantages include reduced cargo space and a higher purchase price because of more complex engineering and design.
Today, many cars on the road have their engine at the front or rear of the vehicle; however, some sports cars and exotic cars are manufactured with a machine in the middle.
A mid engine car is a vehicle placed between the rear and front axles. Mid-engine cars are usually rear-wheel drive and often have a transmission at both ends of the machine.
The mid-engine layout makes for easier weight distribution and a better balance of the car’s overall weight, making it easier to drive.
A car that handles well will also be rapid and responsive, especially in low or medium-speed corners. It will be able to steer easily and quickly, which will make it more stable when braking into bends or roundabouts.
In general, a car with good handling will seem lighter on its wheels than other cars, which will make it feel more agile and less tiring to drive, even though it may be heavier than a similar size car with a front engine.
Table of Contents
- History of Mid Engine Car
- How is a Mid Engine Car different from other cars with engines?
- Advantage of a Mid Engine Car
- Why have a mid-engine design
History of Mid Engine Car
If you’re a car enthusiast, the idea of a mid engine car may conjure images of exotic Italian supercars that you’ve never had a chance to drive. But mid-engine cars have been around for a lot longer than that.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Porsche was making all-mid-engine race cars. And in the 1920s and ’30s, Bugatti made front mid-engine race cars. If you look at any list of the most successful racing cars of all time, you’ll see that they were almost all mid-engine.
What happened? Why don’t we drive these things on our roads today?
The answer is safety.
In a front-engine or rear-engine car, it’s easy to keep them stable: keep the two tires on the outside of the turn spinning faster than the two tires on the inside.
That’s so easy that since Henry Ford first tried it over 100 years ago, we’ve never thought to do it any other way for road cars.
Newton had just invented calculus, and they adapted it to make engines more efficient. The most direct way to save fuel would be to replace the low-efficiency steam engine with a higher-efficiency internal combustion engine.
But the internal combustion engine was much more complicated than the steam engine, so they did things that would have been inconceivable in an age without calculus.
They took away some of the wheels and put them on a single crank axle; it turned out that you could get much higher efficiency that way.
It was so much lower friction that you could reduce from four wheels to two; in fact, you didn’t even need differential gears.
In fact, according to one legendary engineer, this was the real reason that Henry Ford switched from four wheels to two: “There is no reason for having four wheels at all.”
But there were problems with this layout, which can be traced back to Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. The biggest problem is the weight distribution, and heavier components are towards the back in a rear-engine car, making it more.
But in a mid-engine car, there are only two wheels touching the ground (the ones at the back), so there’s no way to use them to steer in turn without lifting one end or another off the road entirely.
How is a Mid Engine Car different from other cars with engines?
In a mid engine car, the engine is in the middle of the vehicle. In a front-engine car, the engine is in front. What’s the difference?
In a mid engine car, most of the engine’s weight is behind the driver, so it feels like you’re sitting in the back of the machine rather than in front of it.
That gives you more traction for turning and helps keep you from fishtailing when you accelerate. Because it’s easier to turn and stop, a mid-engine car tends to feel incredibly agile and responsive to your commands.
The same effect makes mid engine cars more prone to oversteer than other cars with engines. If you turn into a curve too sharply, they will understeer – they’ll tend to go straight rather than hanging with your input.
But if you turn too sharply out of a curve (a phenomenon called “power oversteer”), they will oversteer – they’ll tend to spin around and go in the opposite direction.
You can see this most often on wet or icy roads; because they are more slippery, they make it easier for a driver to get into trouble by misjudging his speed or angle of turn.
A mid engine car is one that puts the engine in the middle, rather than upfront, for those who have been asking the question, What is a Mid engine car?
It’s not a bad analogy to think of the engine as the car’s powerplant. The powerplant is what makes it go and is usually separate from whatever gets it places.
The difference between having your engine in the front or the back affects how a car handles. Putting the engine in the front makes for a more balanced vehicle; putting it in the back makes it more maneuverable.
In airplanes, of course, it makes a big difference where you put your engine. You want your powerplant near your center of gravity, which is basically where your cockpit is.
In an airplane, you are always trying to get as much mass as far behind that center of gravity as possible.
A long freight train, for example, has lots of cars and very few engines; those engines are far behind the center of gravity.
In cars, we want our engines to be far behind our centers of gravity too—but we also wish to them upfront.
We want them close to our weight so that they can help us get around turns by pushing us into them.
Advantage of a Mid Engine Car
The main advantage of placing the engine in the middle is weight distribution. When you’re driving forward, part of the car’s weight will be over its front wheels and its rear wheels.
If you put the engine at the front of a front-engine car, that weight will all be over the front wheels, which means they’ll have to do all the work.
So either your car will have to have mighty front wheels, or it will have to be smaller and lighter if it has weaker ones.
The opposite is valid for a mid engine car. The center of gravity (that’s the technical name for “the place where the car would balance if you put it on top of a pencil”) will be somewhere between the two axles rather than precisely over one of them.
And since it’s easier to balance something with two supports than one, that means a mid-engine car can be smaller or lower or both.
We’ve already seen an example: look at pictures of a Porsche 911 or an Elan compared with a Toyota Corolla or Honda Accord. The 911 and Elan are mid-engine, while the Corolla and Accord are front-engine.
A mid engine car carries all its weight in a narrow central area, and that makes it stable and responsive; you can turn it on a dime. It also weighs the drive wheels, so it handles better than a front-heavy car.
Another advantage is that it reduces the risk of rollover accidents by about 35 percent. It does this by increasing the weight distribution and decreasing the center of gravity of a vehicle.
Another advantage is that you can avoid expensive repairs from high mileage or collision damage when you have this type of car.
Mid engine cars also tend to be highly agile on straightaways and curves. They achieve this through short wheelbases and long overhangs.
There is less body roll when it comes to cornering, and it’s easier to take corners faster with a mid-engine car. Because of this, they are often more spectacular to drive.
A mid engine will be lower, which gives better visibility, fewer blind spot, and a better feeling of control. It also creates less turbulence in the back and reduces drag.
Why have a mid-engine design
The most popular of these cars is the Porsche 911. The engine is mounted in the middle of the vehicle to give better handling and balance.
It also means there is less weight over the front or back wheels which provides better traction and grip.
It would be best if you considered purchasing a mid engine car because of the following reasons:
- Better handling
- Better traction
- Feels more balanced when driving
- More practical because it doesn’t have a large boot at the back
- It can be made into a 2+2, where you can have two people sitting in the rear behind the driver.
When turning a corner, a mid engine car feels more balanced than a front-engine or rear-engine vehicle, which feels like they are going to tip over.
A mid engine car is more nimble and more accessible to drive around bends and corners than a front or rear-engine vehicle, as there is less weight over one wheel or either side of the car, so it’s easier to turn, steer and take corners.
This makes mid-engine cars suitable for racing, although this depends on who has built them.
If you’re a car enthusiast, precisely one that enjoys driving and fast vehicles, you’ve probably heard of the term “mid-engine” before. Maybe even dreamt of having one.
What exactly is a mid-engine car, then? Honestly, it sounds more relaxed than it really is. The phrase can mean all sorts of things, but it just means that the engine is mounted in between the driver and passengers.
Now those who aren’t substantial car fans think this may sound like boring cars and nothing special.
The reality is these are some of the best cars ever made in history. And being slightly more affordable than a front engine or rear engine car also makes them ideal for drifting and racing.
You see, back in the day, it was an arms race of who could put out the fastest cars with massive engines in the front or back.
However, some people want something different, so they started moving their engines to the middle to give better weight distribution because some things aren’t about how much power you have but how you use it.
You see, if you have a mid engine car, then your vehicle will be lighter since you don’t need as heavy components on either end of your vehicle as much, if anywhere at all, depending on your setup, making it handle better potentially.