Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive family has now internationally extended to a huge 76 models suggesting there is a 4X4 version across the entire portfolio the German brand. Be it for the compact class model family and the vehicles of the C-, E-, S-, and CLS-Class to the elaborate range of SUVs and cross-country vehicles of the GLA-, M- and GL-Class. The 4MATIC system ensures sure footed grip with sports agility combined with enhanced handling safety and energy efficiency.
In fact you can buy a premium luxury car, or an urban crossover, or a purpose built SUV, Mercedes-Benz has tailored the 4MATIC to suit the needs of all. But then there is the high performance AMG Performance 4MATIC system for the performance range, which delivers driving dynamics on a high level, preserving driving pleasure for the enthusiasts and also providing improved acceleration from a standing start. This extraction of maximum grip for performance requires even high levels of all-wheel drive engineering to make road going cars perform at par with sports cars running neck and neck on the racetrack. And moreover the 4MATIC system mostly comes in the AMG and SUV range in India.
The evolution of the all-wheel drive system in recent decades is illustrated at the 4MATIC workshop in Hochgurgl by a 4x4 milestone; an E-Class Estate of model series 124. This 4MATIC all-wheel drive system celebrated its world premiere in this particular model series about three decades ago at the International Motor Show in 1985. Having set the bar, the 4MATIC system played a significant part of the success of the compact class model family from Mercedes-Benz. The excellence lies in the exemplary efficiency provided by the cutting edge technology despite providing improved traction for the vehicle.
Besides the complex innards, the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system comprises of a complete additional front-wheel drive system with transfer case and differential. The differential was integrated into the oil pan due to space restrictions. The all-wheel drive system was available for the six-cylinder models. The considerable technical complexity of this perfected drive system was reflected in the sales price: in 1987, the 260 E 4MATIC, 300 E 4MATIC, 300 TE 4MATIC, 300 D 4MATIC and 300 TD Turbo 4MATIC models demanded a price premium over their rear-wheel drive counterparts.
GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC
The GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC has been making a lot of noise in the strongly growing segment of compact SUV market. An amalgam of aggressive design, exclusive appointments as well as superior engine power and driving performance with the most capable series-production four-cylinder engine in the world developing 360bhp of power and 450Nm of peak torque on tarmac.
Thanks to huge grips right from the standstill, it accelerates from zero to 100kmph in 4.8 seconds and reaching an electronically restricted top speed of 250kmph.
CLA 45 AMG
The performance focussed AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive system comes as standard in the new CLA 45 AMG. The engineers were asked to concentrate on performance and dynamics in developing this all-wheel drive. The power flux to the rear power train is provided by a compact power take-off unit (PTU) which is fully integrated with the 7-speed sports transmission.
It does not possess an oil circuit of its own but is supplied with lubricant from the oil circuit of the gearbox. This setup gives rise to weight advantages in comparison to rival systems which branch off power by means of an add-on component with its own oil circuit. Together with the friction-minimised tapered roller bearings, the PTU achieves an excellent level of efficiency. As an additional bonus, the system weight of the new AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive is up to 25 percent lighter than the all-wheel-drive versions offered by the competition.
E 63 AMG
AMG 4MATIC all-wheel drive in the E 63 AMG saloon enhances driving safety and grip on wet or slippery road surfaces. Optimum traction is guaranteed by a multi-disk clutch with a locking effect of 50Nm exploiting frictional connection capability of all four wheels to the full on very slippery surfaces in particular.
This enables higher levels of traction by utilising the changing shift in axle load toward the rear that occurs during acceleration to deliver more drive torque to the rear wheels. All control system interventions go virtually unnoticed, yet drivers still know straight away if they are driving near the limit, as a yellow warning symbol will flash in the AMG instrument cluster. This serves as a clear prompt to adapt the driving style to the road conditions.
GL 63 AMG/ ML 63 AMG
The system employeed in the GL 63 AMG is a 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive capable distributing the drive power to the front and rear axle at a ratio of 40:60 in the interests of dynamic handling.
Along with that, the AMG Ride Control sports suspension with AIRMATIC package featuring air suspension, special damper struts, automatic level control and Adaptive Damping System (ADS), combined with the ACTIVE Curve System for active roll stabilisation. The specific and standard equipped system has active anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles to reduce the body roll angle during hard cornering. Apart from enhanced agility and driving pleasure, the Active Curve System has the additional effect of increasing handling stability and therefore safety, particularly at higher speeds.
The driver can also adjust the behaviour of the system by choosing at the push of a button between the three suspension modes "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport plus". The fully load-bearing air suspension system is speed-sensitive, lowering the body at higher speeds in order to minimise drag while increasing driving stability.
But remember, after all this technological showboat and engineering, it is ultimately the human discretion that determines how safe they are out on the road. Everybody should adapt their driving characteristics to current circumstances and ensure that their vehicle is suitably equipped.