Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC: the pinnacle of permanent all-wheel drive: The great 4x4 for the winter

DAIMLER AG – All-wheel drive is still the top choice for enhanced mobility when road conditions turn wintry. 4MATIC, the permanent, electronically controlled 4x4 system from Mercedes-Benz, promises particularly impressive progress, as it boasts truly formidable performance capabilities on snow-covered and icy roads. High traction reserves, excellent directional stability, peerless safety and exceptional comfort levels are all among the drive concept's highly persuasive benefits.

Not all 4MATIC systems are the same, though – Mercedes-Benz tailors the system to suit the operating profile. So, the new M-Class is equipped with a 4MATIC variant that delivers supremely assured handling on the road combined with top-class off-road technology, while the E-Class employs a system which is geared towards optimum on-road performance. One basic rule applies to all 4MATIC models in the winter, namely that the system can only work as effectively as the connection between the vehicle and the ground allows. In other words, suitable winter tyres are still indispensable.

Outstanding safety and well-balanced ride comfort combined with impressive driving dynamics on dry, wet or wintry roads are some of the key strengths of the third-generation M-Class with permanent all-wheel drive. The premium SUV also makes its mark with superlative skills off the beaten track, thanks to new chassis developments and innovative dynamic handling control systems designed to increase both driving pleasure and active safety.

The optional ON&OFF ROAD package for the new M-Class uses six different driving modes to optimise driving dynamics and handling safety by providing the optimum drive control needed to cope with the wide spectrum of operating conditions encountered both on and off the road. Drivers have the choice of an automatic mode, two specially programmed off-road modes as well as three on-road modes – "Winter", "Sport" and "Towing".

The ON&OFF ROAD package's winter driving mode improves handling characteristics on roads affected by snow, ice or freezing rain and when using snow chains, and offers added safety. The extensive fine-tuning work carried out focused on further increasing longitudinal traction, at the same time as improving lateral dynamics and handling safety. The development team was able to implement these specifications to impressive effect using special control mechanisms in the drivetrain.

When the ON&OFF ROAD package is combined with another optional feature, the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM (ACS), a specially programmed winter set-up offers dynamic driving pleasure while giving the driver excellent control over the vehicle for a high degree of handling safety. At the same time, the system is capable of giving the M-Class greater traction, especially in wintry road conditions with low grip levels. What's more, this set-up boasts even greater directional stability in tighter corners produced by a special control algorithm that is programmed into the system.

E-Class 4MATIC: stable handling on snow and ice

As with the system's set-up on a dry or wet road, handling stability and, therefore, active safety are paramount at all times when wintry conditions prevail too in the E-Class models with 4MATIC. The mechanical principle of the 4MATIC system, featuring a 45:55 torque split between the front and rear axles and a multi-disc limited-slip centre differential with a basic locking torque of 50 Nm, offers all the right ingredients for this.

This basic design enables high levels of traction, as the dynamic shift in axle load toward the rear axle that occurs during acceleration is harnessed to deliver more drive torque to the rear wheels. However, the multi-disc differential lock is also able to shift the drive torque between the front and rear axles, varying the split between 30:70 and 70:30 as the road conditions dictate. Consequently, intervention by the ESP, 4ETS or ASR electronic control systems can be delayed for as long as possible and the bulk of the drive torque converted into tractive power, even on slippery roads. 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 instrument cluster. This serves as a clear prompt to adapt the driving style to the road conditions.

For the first time ever, an E-Class with 4MATIC and a four-cylinder diesel engine is being made available in the shape of the E 250 CDI 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY. This model has an output of 150 kW (204 hp) and stands out for its smooth drive coupled with remarkable performance. In the process, it burns just 5.6 l/100 km on the NEDC cycle, making it the most efficient all-wheel drive diesel car in its class.

M-Class and E-Class: perfect climate with THERMOTRONIC

Mercedes-Benz offers the THERMOTRONIC luxury automatic climate control system for both the E-Class and M-Class. Apart from regulating the climate separately for the driver, front passenger and passengers in the rear, it allows further individual pre-settings to be programmed too. Another feature of the THERMOTRONIC system really comes into its own in the winter months: the residual heat function is activated by pressing the "Rest" button, and heats the interior for around 30 minutes when the engine is switched off.

THERMOTRONIC heats up the passenger compartment extremely efficiently at low outside temperatures, even after a cold start in the morning. This is thanks to a heating output of eleven kilowatts, equivalent to the capacity of the central heating system in a modern family home. On the diesel models, a heat exchanger with six integral PTC heating elements (PTC = Positive Temperature Coefficient) is also activated when the outside temperature falls below a certain level in order to boost the effect of the main heat exchanger with an electrical output of around 1200 watts. To make long journeys or lengthy winter outings in the M-Class even more enjoyable, the centre console holds a little surprise in store: the tempered cup holders include a Peltier element that is capable of keeping drinks hot or chilled in a temperature range of 8° to 55° Celsius at the push of a button.

Mercedes offers 4MATIC in 49 passenger car models

The Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive line-up currently encompasses 49 passenger car models across ten model series for the German market, and offers an impressively wide choice. Besides the E-Class and the C-Class, which both come in saloon and estate variants, the 4MATIC portfolio is enriched by models from the S-Class, CL luxury coupé, CLS four-door coupé and R-Class touring SUV‑ranges too. These are joined by the third-generation M-Class that was brought out this year, the compact GLK and the GL full-size SUV. Still going strong after over 30 years in production, the G-Class truly comes into its own off the beaten track and continues to rank as one of the best cross-country vehicles in the world.