it's more of a handling thing. Many cars are given front wheel drive because the engine is in the front of the car and thus there is more weight over the front axle to give those tires traction. That's why Honda makes front wheel drive cars, so people who want to drive in rain/snow are better off.
However, when it comes to performance handling, i.e. for the track or twisties, rear wheel drive is much better. Mercedes and Porsche will never make a front wheel drive car for this reason.
Someone else can probably expand on the finer details, but that's the basics
The current Ford Mustang is cheap because it is basically on the Fox platform, which hasn't changed for the last 20 or 30 years. Acura made the new TL FWD since it shares the same platform with the Accord. Some high power FWD such as the new TL, Maxima, and Altima also suffers from torque steer as well.
I wonder if it is more effective to put a FWD in a car rather than RWD. I mean to get the same whp with a RWD your going to have to make a bigger engine because of the higher loss of power at the flywheel and drive shaft , and a bigger engine means more money , right? Anyways my 2 cents.
FWD and RWD don't have much of a cost difference, its just a matter of where you put what. I mean, for an RWD you have a longer driveshaft, but other than that the architecture isn't drastically different (drastic as in FWD/RWD vs. AWD).
RWD have a natural balance to them, where as FWD tend to be front-heavy, as Swift points out, and tend to react much better to poop conditions. RWD are much better on the track because of the F/R bias and throttle steer. On a drag, RWD offer better traction because of weight transfer to the rear wheels --> more weight transfer = rear digs in for more grip.
The only real loss between a RWD and FWD in terms of engine-fly-tires is that a RWD driveshaft torques more than an FWD driveshaft (its longer) and there is more unsprung weight (heavier to rotate).
Mid engine-rwd is the optimum situation, which begs the question as to why no one has thought to fab up a MRWD ITR. That would rock.
i mean, how difficult can it be to flip the tranny so it doesn't run mid 12's in reverse and reposition the fuel tank so the engine isn't 18in off the pavement, or fab a tranny linkage so you can shift it, or about 150 other things to make it actually work.
the next logical question here would be AWD vs. RWD. i've never piloted a fast RWD so i really have no idea. i know they tend to understeer a bit because of the mechanical drag involved, but other than that i don't know jack. any takers?