Mercedes just announced its newly-developed 4MATIC all-wheel drive system which will supplement the brand’s new front-wheel drive vehicles.
Slated for cars like the CLA and CLA 45 AMG, which are both set for North American launches in 2013, the system boasts improved efficiency and fully-variable torque distribution. Those efficiency gains come thanks to reduced friction, a 25 percent weight savings and a heavy bias to powering the front wheels.
While the system relies on delivering most of its attention to the front wheels, Mercedes says it takes milliseconds of slip before torque is transferred through a clutch system that directs torque to the rear.
That means this isn’t a true all-wheel drive system, but then again most drivers won’t need full-time power to all fours. Instead, power to the front is more than good enough in most situations and offers considerable fuel savings — something drivers are more likely to appreciate on a regular basis.
Mercedes says the 4MATIC function is activated according to the basic principal of “as often as necessary, as rarely as possible.”
Some drivers, especially those likely to buy an AMG model, might feel disappointed to learn that, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The system won’t be paired with the seven-speed automatic transmission Mercedes took such a shine to in recent years. Instead, it will work with a seven-speed DCT to offer lightning-quick shifts.
If the system’s response to front-wheel slip is as quick as the brand boasts, it will mean stomping on the AMG-frenzied throttle will spin the front wheels ever so slightly before engaging all-wheel drive. With the newly developed 2.0-liter four cylinder offering 295 lb-ft of torque to the CLA 45 AMG, the “baby CLS” will be anything but short on power.