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Mercedes: the second 4Matic generation turns 25

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In the winter of 25 years ago, grip on slippery road surfaces significantly increased thanks to the arrival of the second generation 4MATIC system. The Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive system has in fact marked an important step forward in making driving in difficult conditions easier and safer. Instead of using the traditional differential locks, the new 4MATIC relies on the 4ETS electronic drive system: it is activated automatically when at least one wheel loses grip on a surface with poor grip. The system then increases the brake pressure on this wheel until it is back in specific ratio with the other wheels. Today, permanent all-wheel drive has established itself on all models in the Mercedes-Benz range, from the fully electric EQA 300 4MATIC to the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4MATIC +. This significantly evolved generation of all-wheel drive makes its debut 25 years ago on the E 280 4MATIC and E 320 4MATIC models of the E-Class 210 series. Both are equipped with new V6 engines of the M 112 series with three-valve technology and dual ignition. . These vehicles are presented to the international public for the first time at the AutoRAI show in Amsterdam from 6 to 16 February 1997. The E 280 4MATIC is available shortly after this preview, while the market launch of the larger displacement variant follows in June 1997. The new 4MATIC was not Mercedes-Benz’s first all-wheel drive, but 25 years ago it set the standards for optimal car control even in difficult winter conditions, on icy and snowy roads. The history of Mercedes-Benz all-wheel drive vehicles dates back to the early 20th century. Paul Daimler, then technical director of the Österreichische Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, laid the foundations for the design of all-wheel drive in 1903.
After the first vehicles for the Austrian and Prussian army between 1905 and 1907, the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft built in 1907 the “Dernburg-Wagen”, the very first passenger car with all-wheel drive and steering wheels, which was delivered in German South West Africa in 1908. Benz & Cie. Also produced several other all-wheel drive prototypes during this period. The first market-ready Benz with four-wheel drive was the VRL off-road vehicle, which was built as a one-off around 1920. After the merger from which the then Daimler-Benz AG was born in 1926, several four-wheel drive vehicles were made to Mercedes-Benz brand, also suitable for military use. In the W 136 series these are the 170 VG (with all-wheel drive) and 170 VL (with all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering) models. The Mercedes-Benz G5 (W 152) with all-wheel drive and selectable four-wheel steering, which was presented in 1938, was used as an emergency vehicle for the Berchtesgaden mountain rescue service which, among other things, continued to use this model until the 1950s. The development of the star’s all-wheel drive icon par excellence began in 1972: the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. In 1979, the first models of the family were launched on the market. The vehicles are built in Graz by Geländefahrzeuggesellschaft mbH, a joint venture of the then Daimler-Benz AG and Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The first generation of the 4MATIC is also a milestone in the development of Mercedes-Benz chassis. It was presented at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 1985. The four-wheel drive, which engages automatically, makes its debut in sedans and station wagons with six-cylinder engines of the 124 series, in the E 260 4MATIC and E 300 4MATIC. These all-wheel drive variants of the E-Class were delivered starting in 1987. Later, the model range was extended to the 300 D 4MATIC and the 300 D Turbo 4MATIC. 4MATIC is the most technically complex system of the “Mercedes-Benz Driving Dynamics Concept” introduced in 1985, which also includes the limited slip differential (ASD) and the traction control system (TCS).

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Source: Ansa

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