Work In Progress..
- '18 CX-9 Signature
Sorry, but I'm scratching my head on this. A lot of people, maybe most, who buy a luxury car strictly for luxury (or a status statement) wouldn't know the darn difference. And it doesn't explain Audi's popularity or some of the FWD Lexus and Infiniti models.
I should clarify - Modern luxury AWD systems that are based on RWD platforms behave differently from AWD systems based on FWD platforms. @zroger73 explained the difference between the RDX and the CX-5's AWD systems in a previous post, but here it is again:
With only one clutch, Mazda's AWD system can only send power to the rear axle through an open differential - not to each wheel on command and there's no overdrive so there's no torque vectoring. While accelerating through a hairpin turn, the CX-5's inside tires will spin. In the RDX's overdriven, twin-clutch system, more power is sent to the outside rear wheel which helps create a yaw moment and gives it somewhat of a RWD feel.
I won't assume what other people's preferences are when they buy their cars (or why they buy the cars that they do), but the fact is that the AWD systems are different. If you were to go from XXX vehicle with RWD-based AWD, to a Mazda with i-Activ AWD, you would definitely be able to tell the difference - if you were driving the cars in conditions that would allow you to explore the capability of each system. It's not that the Mazda system is inadequate by any means, it's just that there is a difference. IMO, Mazda appears to be targeting the luxury audience that prefers Lexus interiors and BMW driving dynamics. Thus, Mazda should be aiming to compete with BMW's AWD system, and it's mechanically limited to braking the inner wheel to regain traction while other systems have actual torque vectoring capabilities.