Front wheel drive refers to a vehicle where the torque of the engine is applied to only the front wheels. This allows for a more compact engine and transmission that is easier to and cheaper to install at the factory, resulting in a cheaper, but not significantly worse car.
Front wheel drive cars often have more of their weight on the front wheels, which tends to increase understeer, this understeer can be mostly obviated via stiffer springs on the rear suspension.
Under heavy acceleration Front wheel drive tends to spin the front wheels, as weight transfer reduces the grip of the driven wheels under acceleration. This is rarely much of a problem on an ordinary road car, except in the low gears and in conditions of low grip. This contrasts with rear wheel drive which, if anything, gain grip due to weight transfer.
Also under acceleration, front wheel drive suffer from a phenomenon called torque steer
; rear wheel drive
is usually free of this.
Acceleration induced spin on the front wheels with front wheel drive is generally more benign than spin on the rear wheels in rear wheel drive as the car will stay in a roughly straight line which is recoverable, whereas rear wheel drive cars tend to spin beyond the limit of steering lock, when the situation cannot be recovered. Average drivers are probably better off with front wheel drive.
Pretty much all racing cars have rear wheel drive or all wheel drive unless sufficiently penalised by regulations; as in practice they are able to lap significantly more quickly.