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Luxury in Any Weather with Mercedes-Benz’ 4MATIC All-Wheel Drive System

Published on January 30 2015

German vehicles, for the most part, have been known for many years for being rear-wheel drive biased.

The idea has always been that rear-wheel drive vehicles offer better handling and overall, more fun behind the wheel. That said, with the latest advancements in technology and engineering, it is more possible that ever to combine the driving pleasure of RWD with the safety advantages of AWD. The perfect example is Mercedes-Benz’ 4MATIC system.

The 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year by expanding the number of models on which it is offered in Canada. Never have there been so many Mercedes-Benz vehicles that can be equipped with 4MATIC, and the number should continue to increase as new models are unveiled. Mercedes-Benz has always been very good at understanding the needs of consumers, and the decision to add 4MATIC to most Mercedes-Benz models sold in Canada is proof. Drivers in Canada know too well that we often have to face harsh driving conditions between the months of November and April, and sometimes even in May. If you have ever driven a vehicle that sends its power to all four wheels like Mercedes-Benz’ 4MATIC vehicle lineup, you know the advantages AWD offers in snowy or icy conditions.

That said, 4MATIC takes it one step further. Designed to enhance security while maintaining the feel and sportiness of a typical German vehicle, 4MATIC is essentially the driving enthusiast’s AWD system. There are two types of 4MATIC systems: variable and permanent.

When driving in normal conditions, variable 4MATIC will vary the power distribution to send either 100% of the torque to the front wheels or up to 50% to the rear axle in the B-Class, CLA-Class, and GLA-Class. In the other models in the lineup, permanent 4MATIC is featured. Adding only 70 kg of weight and advanced enough not to require a center locking differential, it is among the most efficient AWD systems offered on the market. If the system senses that one wheel is losing traction, it will apply the brakes directly to that wheel while transferring torque to the other wheels with better traction, which allows the vehicle to instantly regain its stability.

In the C-Class, E-Class, and CLS-Class, the torque distribution of the 4MATIC all-wheel drive is rear-biased in order to favor sportier handling. Mercedes-Benz SUVs (excluding the AMG variants) showcase a 50:50 torque split in order to offer improved off-road behaviour and better on-road stability. The long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class also features a 50:50 torque split capability.

Then, there are the automaker’s powerful AMG models. At their core, AMG vehicles are all about performance and speed. Up until recently, AMG vehicles were all rear-wheel drive (except sport utility vehicles). That said, most AMG buyers want to be able to enjoy their vehicle in winter, and that is why the German manufacturer opted to add 4MATIC to AMG branded vehicles. The CLS 63 AMG, S63 AMG, and E63 AMG, among others, all come standard with 4MATIC AWD. That said, their system is a bit different and splits the torque 33:67 between the front and rear axle in order to favour handling.

Although very technical, 4MATIC comes down to a very simple notion; Mercedes-Benz offers its customers true German performance when the road is dry with the added benefit of improved stability and traction when the road is wet or covered in snow. The best of both worlds? Absolutely.

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