What I mean by that is RWD dash to axle proportions or footprint. Lincoln is supposedly developing a new large sedan for China and its rumored to used RWD proportions...
Volvo has shown large front-wheel-drive concept cars with RWD proportions with the recent Coupe (Frankfurt 2013), XC Coupe (Detroit 2014) and Estate (Geneva 2014), though without any explanation of how it would achieve those proportions in production versions of the cars. While such proportions do nothing for space efficiency, the “footprint” element of the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards make the additional wheelbase length easy to justify. “Footprint” is wheelbase times front and rear track. The larger the footprint, the easier it is for a car to achieve its CAFE goals. As an executive for a competing company told me at the Geneva show, that CAFE footprint provision has been leading to some very creative design configuration proposals.
But a RWD dash-to-axle ratio on a large FWD sedan isn’t so much “creative” as it is handsome. It’s the kind of proportion that can make a large car look more elegant, even to those who don’t know what they’re looking at, so designers love to work with it. The easiest way to determine dash-to-axle is to look at the width of the sheetmetal between the rear of the front wheel wells and the front door cut of the front doors.
Using a north-south engine layout on a FWD-based car (with an all-wheel-drive option) is potentially costly, though far cheaper than switching to a dedicated RWD platform. This raises the question, too, of whether the Ford Taurus, on which the current Lincoln MKS is based, would come along for the ride. Exclusive use of the RWD dash-to-axle could provide Lincoln much-needed differentiation from the Taurus, as well as from its own midsize MKZ.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around how you mount a FWD engine longitudinally, but hey Audi does it....
Typical RWD proportions mean a long hood with short front overhang. Assuming the link works, below is a picture of a RWD-based BMW X1 above a transverse/FWD Audi Q3. (Unlike the Q3, most Audi's have a longitudinal engine layout.) The Audi has a shorter hood with a longer front overhang. The X1 has a significantly longer dash-to-axle ratio, or the distance from the A pillar to the front axle. The giveaway here is that the Q3's front door line is directly behind the wheel well, while the X1 has what appears to be acres of sheet metal separating the door and wheel well. This is why FWD vehicles tend to have more interior space relative to their footprint.
The next generation X1 will be moving to a FWD platform to be shared with the Mini Countryman and 2 Series Active Tourer. Notice how the proportions change dramatically on the Active Tourer? The next X1 will have similar proportions.
Below are pics of several recent Volvo concept cars that maintain RWD proportions despite all using the same transverse/FWD platform. Pretty sexy, and I don't mean just for Volvos.
If they can build that, I think just off of looks alone people would buy it. I can also see a lot of limo companies buying them for their fleets, something different to drive people around in than a Mercedes S-Class.
Longitudinal FWD cars are pretty rare, but they've been around for a while. Old FWD Subarus were longitudinal. The Chrysler LH cars, several Acuras and the Passats that shared the A4's platform had longitudinal engines but were offered in FWD only.