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Mercedes-Benz and the 4×4 evolution

17 August 2012

Mercedes-Benz four-wheel drive system

Mercedes-Benz are one of the most forward thinking car manufacturers, they pioneered many safety features, such as ABS brakes, airbags and night vision driving lamps.

But when Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler decided to build the first commercial four-wheel drive car in 1907, they didn’t just create a bashful form of transport; the Gelandewagen now gives customers the privilege of doing that. No, they sought out to give it four-wheel steering too, which made it inherently better to steer. Truth be told, they didn’t have a recession or high parts costs to worry about over a 100 years ago. But it’s because they took the leap of faith and pushed ahead so vehemently that modern Mercs enjoy the privilege of using a four-wheel drive system that has taken many years to be honed and perfected.

The modern iterations that now use the four-wheel drive system are namely the G-Class and the M-Class, but prior to those two models using the system, Mercedes created the Unimog, which was built back in 1947 with four wheels of equal size, four-wheel drive with front and rear differential locks and axles optimised for off-road use.

As the evolutionary process carried on, newer technology came to the fore, with the G-class it is still fitted with permanent all-wheel drive, fully engageable differential locks, four-wheel Electronic Traction System (4ETS) and a low-range gear reduction. While the G-class steals a bit of the real off-road zest from the Unimog, the M-class which made its world debut in 1997 captures the elegance, and luxury of the Stuttgart firms saloon cars, while adding an air of air of off-road ruggedness not yet seen in a luxury SUV. The 4-wheel drive system is now called 4matic and features on the M and GL and R-class models.

Lastly, from humble beginnings to the future Mercedes have unveiled that the new A 45 AMG, a rival to sporty hatches from the likes of BMW, AUDI and VW will feature an all-wheel drive system which will aid sporty driving characteristics in any condition.