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2006 S500 4matic, 2008 S550 4matic
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Discussion Starter #1
I just learnt that there is a difference between AWD and 4WD. To my satisfaction I found that 4matic is AWD. However, there are several articles on the web that Quattro and some Fords systems are the best :( I thought that Mercedes should have the best engineering of its cars. How good is 4matic and what we are missing over A8?
 

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2000 ML430
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16 Posts
Quattro has a center diff/ clutch that sends power to where it needs it. 4matic is an open diff.

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2006 S600
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Can you tell us what the difference is? I don't think there is one. I think it's marketing twaddle.

I've read a lot of explanations about the difference between 4WD and AWD, and they have all been contradictory, and the authors don't really know what they're talking about.

For your question, 4matic covers a variety of different systems that encompass what people broadly describe as 4WD and AWD.

Moreover, Quattro also covers a variety of different systems that encompass what people broadly describe as 4WD and AWD.

So 4matic is both - it depends on the specific model.

Nick
 

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2000 ML430
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Plenty of videos on youtube but quattro is a better system. It's similar to what Subaru uses. On 4matic Power leaves the transmission and enter the transfer case. There is a open differential in the t case. Meaning under normal driving power is split roughly 50/50 front and rear to the front and rear open diffs. Open differentials spin both sides until resistance then power goes to the easy side. Mercedes brakes the spinning side which takes a bit to force the side with traction to spin. The quattro shifts the power around through the clutch before the brakes are even needed to be applied. But it still uses the clutch. Either way much better to look on youtube for a quattro explanation.

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W220 Moderator
S500 W220 SLK320 R170 C200 CDI W203 Peugeot Expert Van
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IMHO through personal experience with Customers Cars anything from VW Audi Group these days is junk.

Sadly there is a lot of VAG Cars up here, broken ones I see often :(

There part numbering system is a joke, discontinued parts with the same number as revised ones but they can't be interchanged without changing a whole load of other parts, also they never know exactly what is fitted to a specific VIN, so car is often in bits for a week or more waiting on parts, a lot of the Diesel Engines are a ticking time bomb, DSG Gearboxes that go bang at very low miles, etc etc ................ I could go on and on but I won't ;)
 

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2000 S430, 2003 S430, 2003 S600 TT, and 2005 E320 CDI
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I was talking with an indy mechanic shop that was working on a newer Bentley (I think that's also Volkswagen-owned). He wasn't too impressed with the construction. I asked him why, and his response: "it's a Volkswagen. They have problems."

Problem is, the newer Mercedes-Benzes are not without their own problems. Car companies are cutting corners to the point that reliability is beginning to suffer, and the well-deserved reputation that the Germans have for their quality automobiles could be at risk of damage.

As for the 4Matic vs. Quattro debate, personally I don't give a rip as long as either system gives the driver good traction on the road in inclement weather.
 

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2006 S500 4matic, 2008 S550 4matic
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Discussion Starter #7
Dave,

You refer to reliability of VW and Audi. We trust you they are junk. But what about performance? I guess the main (and may be the only for the case of luxury sedan?) reason to use AWD is safety? Can we say that from this point of view Quattro is better or they perform the same?
 

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S500 W220 SLK320 R170 C200 CDI W203 Peugeot Expert Van
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Hi,

I have road tested Customers Cars yes, Quattro's yes, as for performance comparisons I couldn't say, I don't drive customers Cars like a loon ;)

I have also driven 4 Matic MB's and my comment on them would be the same, except that you don't feel what the MB's are doing, very smooth as opposed to the clunky old Haldex VAG poop, so knowing MB it may be because it is a better system, but hand on heart I've never driven either in real bad weather or at very high speeds so I really cant say ;)

I have driven both Subaru and Mitsubish systems in anger on some very slippery surfaces and they are the "bees knees" which is why the darned things were winning all the Stage Rallies ;)
 

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2006 S500 4matic, 2008 S550 4matic
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Discussion Starter #9
Dave,

Can I assume that 4matic is as good but feels smoother?
 

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very smooth as opposed to the clunky old Haldex VAG poop, so knowing MB it may be because it is a better system,
/\ /\ /\ That's what I said, I would say it is smoother and better, any driveline snatch will unsettle the best Car at speed
 

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2006 S600
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Some AWD systems are better than others, but it’s not about the brand so much as the architecture. It’s all about the centre differential.

Traditional AWD systems (and Audi and Subaru) were based on a longitudinal engine/transmission configuration. The centre differential sat behind the gearbox, and permanently split the output front / rear. The front diff could be under / behind / beside the engine, but they’re largely the same.

Modern AWD systems are often based on transverse engine and FWD, to which a propshaft and rear axle are added. Since the gearbox drives the front differential directly, there’s no centre differential. So the only way to allow front / rear speed differences is to have a switched or variable coupling, typically an electronically controlled clutch. That means the front wheels get all the torque, until they lose grip, so it handles like a FWD.

Lancia and Mitsubishi made honourable exceptions to this, where the front diff became the centre diff, and two concentric output shafts went to the right, one to the rear transfer gears, and one to the front diff, both inside the transfer box. Very clever, very effective and very expensive.

With a centre differential, you can have whatever F/R torque distribution that you want all the time, it just depends on the respective sizes of the differential gears. With a clever clutched centre coupling and split surfaces, you can get all sorts of different torque distributions. However, all this is marketing obfuscation because the fact remains you have to lose grip at the front before you transfer power to the rear, which I think is clunky and second best.

I recently went for a ride in a proper AWD car with a centre differential – a recent Audi RS6. Although not especially roomy, it was very fast and very smooth and very well sorted. I won’t get dragged into the car wars gutter, but the engine and transmission in all respects were the best I’ve ever encountered. I’m sure that modern MB, BMW and Jaguar AWD transmissions are very good as well.

Some AWD systems are better than others, but I think there are more differences within each manufacturer's range than between them.

Nick
 

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2000 S430, 2003 S430, 2003 S600 TT, and 2005 E320 CDI
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My mechanic buddy has several 4Matic cars, some W203's and now (recently) a W211. He bought the W211 based on the performance of the W203's; apparently 4Matic is very good in inclement weather. I've driven his new-to-him W211 in dry road conditions, and it felt pretty smooth there as well.

My last experience with Quattro was in an Audi 5000, obviously a very long time ago, and it was on dry California pavement. But the car ran smoothly, that's for sure.
 

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2006 S500 4matic, 2008 S550 4matic
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Discussion Starter #13
Some AWD systems are better than others, but I think there are more differences within each manufacturer's range than between them.
May I guess that $matic on S-class better than on other classes? Is w221 one better than W220 4matic?
 

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2000 ML430
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Does it mean that If an ABS light is on then 4matic is disabled?
No, it just means if you have a wheel spinning it will continue to spin since the abs isn't active to brake that wheel and transfer power to the wheel with grip

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1999 SLK55 AMG + 6 speed swap, 2001 CLK55 AMG - parts
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72 Posts
The original Quattro transmission was cool. It used a hallow output shaft, which then connected to the center diff, and the front "drive shaft" was routed inside that hallow output shaft up to the front differential (which was enclosed in the same case) I've had a few early Quattro cars and they are generally a very sturdy system. My 5000's had lockable center and rear differentials which made the car "unstoppable".. and also donut monsters. Subaru is the only other manufacturer that uses (used?) that similar setup. Early Quattro units were also evenly split, and had open differentials until the 90's when you could get your Quattro with a TORSEN center diff, still with the lockable rear.

Unfortunately, you could only do this with a manual transmission, and when people wanted AWD with Automatics, they had to relay the power through a "transfer case" and up to the front via a driveshaft that was offset and not through the middle like a early Quattro unit. This is how every longitudinal setup is today. Some companies like MB have that front driveshaft external to the transmission, and even the front differential is in a separate case. This is how early 4-matics were. that is the extent of my 4-matic knowledge.

Nothing will compare to the first generation of Quattro.... NOTHING. period.
 

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Nothing will compare to the first generation of Quattro.... NOTHING. period.
Yep I'll go along with that, and yes the VW Audi Group products, like most Mfrs (not just Cars), were much better in those halcyon days without "bean counters" and stupidly low emissions targets ;)
 

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Everyone wants to blame “bean counters”, but:
1 I’ve never seen an accountant actually make a product decision, and
2. Cost are important consideration because American consumers (largest car market) are, sometimes chasing the lowest penny.
 
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