With the 2003 debut of the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system in its C-Class and S-Class lines, Mercedes-Benz says it is anticipating an emerging trend in the luxury car market. The company is announcing the return of 4MATIC to its E-Class line with the world premiere of the 2004-model E-Class wagon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As a result, when the wagon goes on sale later this year, Mercedes-Benz says it will be offering all-wheel-drive versions of all its sedans and wagons for the first time ever.
According to the company, with negligible weight and fuel-efficiency tradeoffs, go-anywhere full-time four-wheel-drive systems provide year-round traction and stability benefits, on both wet and dry roads. Mercedes-Benz first introduced 4MATIC-equipped cars in 1989.
According to the company, the full-time four-wheel-drive system used in all Mercedes-Benz cars and sport utilities features a mechanical center differential that can vary front-to-rear torque distribution for on-road handling, and improved traction in a wide range of conditions.
In addition, the system includes four-wheel electronic traction control that keeps the vehicle going even if only one wheel has traction. With a mechanical all-wheel-drive system, four-wheel traction control eliminates the need for complicated locks or limited-slip devices. However, the G-Class is the one Mercedes-Benz that is also fitted with three differential locks for an extra measure of heavy-duty off-road performance, according to Mercedes-Benz.
While 4MATIC cars use a single-range five-speed automatic transmission, Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicles add a two-speed transfer case that actually provides ten forward gears, including a low range for control going up and down steep grades. When low range is engaged, a modified transmission shifting program and ABS mode are engaged for optimal off-road performance.
According to the company, under normal conditions, Mercedes sport utility vehicles distribute torque nearly equally between the front and rear wheels. On the other hand, 4MATIC-equipped cars come with a planetary gear set within the center differential that begins with 35-65 percent front-to-rear torque distribution. To skilled drivers, this rear-bias all-wheel-drive system feels much like rear-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz cars, in which subtle throttle steering effects can enhance handling, especially in spirited driving.
About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA is responsible for the sales and marketing of all Mercedes-Benz cars and sport utility vehicles in the U.S. Headquartered in Montvale, NJ near New York City, MBUSA employs approximately 1,500 people in 20 locations across the U.S. The company claims it sells over 200,000 vehicles annually and has set all-time sales records for each of the past five years.