Which is Best? A Guide to Front and Mid-Engine Models for Students in Mechanic Courses

become an auto mechanic

Due its effect on the car’s overall balance and centre of gravity, engine placement is a key aspect of reducing or enhancing how a vehicle responds to its steering input. While many standard cars have the engine located in the front, high-performance cars tend to feature engines placed farther back towards the rear axles, known as mid-ship or amidships engines. Although engine placement concerns individual preference more than performance, there are certain distinctions between where it is located in a car’s layout and how that affects car handling.

Read on to learn more about the key differences between front and mid-engine placement.

Why Does Engine Placement Matter?

When it comes to vehicle layout, a commonly held theory is that for optimal performance, the centre of gravity should be as low and close to the drive wheels as possible. This is because it helps accelerate the wheels’ rotation, in the same way a figure skater pirouettes or a high diver tucks in their limbs to gather inertia.

Engine placement affects acceleration, handling, and steering
Engine placement affects acceleration, handling, and steering

The placement of the engine also affects the corresponding layout of the car. A midship engine provides better balance for the car, which means sharper turning and a more even weight distribution, but is less common than a front or four-wheel drive because it concentrates a lot of the car’s weight towards the rear. Front-mounted engines, and therefore front-wheel drives, are subsequently the most common design.

Pros and Cons of Front-Engine Models

The ubiquity of front-engine placement means that it is the most familiar layout to students in mechanic courses. It is also the most accessible placement because it is directly under the hood, where mid-engine cars will have it located near the rear axle. The main advantage for drivers is that it gives the car mild driving characteristics, striking a happy balance between steering, acceleration, and handling.

One of the main disadvantages in front-engine cars is their tendency to understeer, which happens when the car continues in one direction despite changes in steering. The placement of the engine also makes for slower acceleration, because the engine’s output must travel the length of the car to reach the rear wheels. Although the large mass of a front engine can protect the driver in the event of a head-on collision, the extra space contributes to a long hood, which gives the driver the sense of handling a larger car.

The Mid-Engine’s Role Explained for Students in Mechanics Courses

The mid-engine is most commonly found in high-performance cars because its placement near the rear axle gives it a low centre of gravity and better acceleration. For those who want to become an auto mechanic, it’s important to note that a mid-engine layout also lends an ideal weight distribution to the car. This means that a mid-engine placement can make a car feel more solid on the road and give the driver an additional sense of confidence.

A bias towards the back portion of a car can help maintain good traction, but it can also lead to difficulty controlling the car if it spins out, which is why its greatest strength can also be a drawback. Car enthusiasts should also know that a midship engine placement also doesn’t make for a good passenger car, as the engine’s location limits cabin space to two seats or less.

Want to learn more about what’s under the hood at automotive courses in Canada?

Contact your local Automotive Training Centre for more information!

Form is submitting