I own a Saab 9-3 Aero. It's a wonderful car. It's comfortable, safe, powered by a 2.8l turbocharged v6, and it has so much midrange torque that with a simple tune it will easily take down tons of German alternatives.
It has worked flawlessly for me in the last 3 or so years. It gets me from A to B, it's fun on backroads and it is very practical. Why then, did I blow a bunch of money on a 13 year old BMW with less power and a full roster of mechanical and electronic issues? The answer seems simple at first: I wanted a rear-wheel-drive car. But eventually I discovered the reason goes deeper than that...
The BMW I bought is a better drivers car in essentially every measurable way. However, it wasn't the better steering feel in the BMW that made me buy one. Or the balance, or engine response. It was simply a feeling that was missing with my Saab- a feeling that a RWD car could deliver. It took me a long time to understand just why this mattered to me so much. At first, I thought it was the obvious things; throttle rotation, driftyness, more traction coming out of the corners, less understeer etc. But the real reason is much more primal than that. Much more... childish.
We all had times when we were young, where the simplest object we could find would become an imaginary rocket, or a race car. If you were anything like me, you could even take a ripped piece of paper that had a point at the front end, and run around the house with it making wooshing engine noises and covering the front of your shirt in spittle. A couple couch cushions were your ticket to blasting off into space, or running toe to toe with your favourite race car driver. It hit me recently that not once could I think of a time during any of that when I imagined myself being PULLED by the rocket engine. Almost always, for me anyway, the smoke and fire and explosion would be behind me; rocketing my one-speed bicycle past the sound barrier.
It is engrained deep somewhere in my psychology that the thing propelling me forward must be coming from the back. From the rear. I don't know why. There is something seriously satisfying about being at the front with a view, while the power and smoke comes pouring out the noise-maker behind you. I always rush to the front of the roller coaster, even though everyone knows that the better ride is near the back.
As it turns out, this concept applies directly to cars. I love my Saab, I really do. But there was always, and still is, something missing from the experience. There is something about being pulled along by the front of the car that robs a bit of childish fun from it. Maybe thats why some of us love rear-wheel-drive cars; they hearken back to when we were being propelled by rockets and dreams. You can all go around and argue that RWD is better because of this and that. Or AWD is superior for x, y, and z. Meanwhile I think I'll be over here, pretending that I'm in a space ship.