The newly developed Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC is permanently active and therefore operates with no reaction time, assisting the driver in unfavourable weather conditions such as rain, ice or snow. This enables him to manage critical situations with confidence. The centrepiece of the all-wheel system is a transfer case with a centre differential, which is integrated into the seven-speed automatic transmission. From here the drive torque is distributed to the front and rear axles in a 45:55 split. At just 60 to 70 kilograms (depending on the model), the permanent all-wheel-drive developed by Mercedes-Benz is the lightest transmission system of its kind.
A newly developed multi-disc clutch on the centre differential transfers the engine power to all the wheels with a basic locking force of 50 newton metres between the front and rear axles, so that the new C-Class moves off even better on slippery road surfaces and has even greater driving stability than the preceding 4MATIC models.
As a standard feature Mercedes-Benz combines the permanent all-wheel-drive with the ESP® Electronic Stability Program and the 4ETS traction system, which selectively brakes wheels at the onset of wheelspin thus increasing torque at the wheels with good traction. The system uses sensor signals to measure out the automatic braking impulses, which improve traction when driving on slippery surfaces and increase stability during critical manoeuvres. In this way, 4ETS achieves the same effect as conventional differential locks with appreciably greater comfort than other all-wheel-drive cars.
Fuel consumption falls by up to 0.5 litres per 100 kilometres. High-torque six-cylinder engines are available for the 4MATIC models in the C-Class. A diesel engine is also available for the first time. In saloons Mercedes-Benz offers this permanent all-wheel-drive system in the C 280, C 350 and C 320 CDI models; the C 320 CDI is available with 4MATIC as an estate.
With a 200 kW/272 hp six-cylinder engine the new C 350 4MATIC consumes between 10.0 and 10.3 litres of premium petrol per 100 kilometres (combined NEFC consumption), making it 0.3 litres more economical than its predecessor. The C 280 4MATIC saves up to 0.5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. The new C 320 CDI 4MATIC has an output of 165 kW/224 hp and the saloon version consumes between 7.7 and 8.0 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. Depending on the motorization, this means that the all-wheel-drive system only increases consumption from 0.2 to 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres.
The 4MATIC saloons offer the same, comprehensive safety and comfort features as the rear-wheel-drive models. These include the AGILITY CONTROL package with selective shock absorber control, as well as seven airbags, crash-responsive head restraints, automatic climate control and alloy wheels. The 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission is also on board.