The first design concepts for an all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicle came at the hands of Paul Daimler, son of Gottleib Daimler – inventor of the first internal combustion motorcycle, car and boat and cofounder of Mercedes-Benz.
A mechanical engineer himself, Paul first put forward his designs in 1903. From these came such off-road greats as the G-Class and the Unimog. Then at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz engineers debuted their new passenger car AWD system. Its name, 4MATIC.
An AWD system offers drivers the use of torque through all four wheels. This is instead of more conventional two-wheel-drive which only sends torque to either the front or rear wheel-set. Sending torque to all four wheels offers greater power and control and therefore is typically associated with vehicles that are built to handle harsher driving conditions.
Far more than 4 wheel drive.
The 4MATIC system takes this a step further. Beyond supplying torque to all four wheels in equal measure, the 4MATIC system automatically assesses each wheel in isolation and supplies torque according to the demands on each.
It instantaneously responds to changes in road surface and makes the most of all available traction. If conditions change, so does the application of power or braking force to each wheel. This achieves maximum efficiency, control and safety, as well as offering superior handling.
Improved performance. Everyday.
While undoubtedly bettering control in an off-road environment, this receptiveness allows the benefits of all-wheel-drive to be utilised during everyday driving, too. Whether starting on uneven or unstable ground, handling an unknowing curve or undergoing a sudden change in conditions, 4MATIC helps the driver keep the vehicle under control and provides an even greater margin of safety even when pushed to its limits.
4MATIC has been designed to keep you on course where other vehicles might struggle to do so. When entering an unexpected puddle or going over a patch of ice, for example.
Using the same wheel speed sensors as ABS and ESP systems, the 4-ETS (Electronic Traction System) detects the onset of wheel spin and quickly applies the brake to the affected wheel/s. Simultaneously, increased torque is sent to the wheels that have sufficient grip. Even if three out of four wheels are affected, the fourth will adjust to maintain stability.
While the performance of the 4MATIC system is unquestionably groundbreaking, it is important to recognise that no system, regardless of how advanced, can overcome the laws of physics or correct careless driving. So, even when driving with 4MATIC, please always wear your seatbelt and always drive carefully.
If the car registers that it is running at near handling capacity, a yellow light will flash in the instrument cluster. This is to warn the driver to adapt their driving style to the current road conditions and to reconsider the speed at which they can safely travel.