The first AWD system ever fitted to a Mercedes dates back to 1987 and the W124 Mercedes E-Class. Ever since then Mercedes has managed to pack the AWD system in many different models ranging from the A-Class hatchback all the way up to the flagship S-Class.
Nowadays all Mercedes models can be fitted with a 4MATIC AWD system. The First-generation AWD system was a fairly basic double-locking differential system, and Mercedes has introduced the 4MATIC+ in 2017 for the E63 AMG S as the most advanced AWD system yet.
Mercedes AWD sedans
The C-Class Mercedes is the smaller Mercedes sedan that retails for $51k for the C300 4MATIC version. The C300 4MATIC costs $10k more than the RWD C300, but it does include the premium package and the exterior lighting package. This version offers an inline 4-cylinder 2.0L turbo with 255hp and a 23-33 MPG US combined.
The E-Class Mercedes is the mid-size premium sedan that retails for $57k for the E350 4MATIC version. This version is equipped with the same engine found in the C300 4MATIC offering the same power output and efficiency. The E450 4MATIC also offers an AWD system for $62k and a 362hp 3.0L inline 6-cylinder engine with EQ Boost technology.
If you want an AWD Mercedes flagship S-Class, be ready to pay around $100k for the S450 4MATIC, or $107k for the S560 4MATIC. The S450 comes with a 3.0L inline turbo with 362hp and a decent 18-28MPG US. The 560 comes with a 4.0L BiTurbo V8 with 463hp and 17-27MPG US fuel efficiency ratings.
Mercedes AWD SUVs
The 2021 Mercedes GLA250 SUV is the entry-level subcompact Mercedes SUV crossover which retails for about $36k for the regular version, and $38k for the AWD 4MATIC version of the GLA 250. The GLA250 offers a 2.0L inline 4 turbo with 221hp and 24-33MPG US fuel ratings.
The 2021 Mercedes GLB is also offered with AWD if you opt for the GLB250 4MATIC version which retails for about $46k. This version of the GLB offers the same powerplant as the one found in the GLA250.
If you want the mid-size best-seller Mercedes SUV the GLC, you can choose between two different 4MATIC models. The first one is the $45k GLC 300 4MATIC with a 2.0L inline 4 with 255hp and a decent 21-28 MPG US, or a $52k GLC350e hybrid that offers the same engine, plus an electric motor for a combined output of 315hp.
The mid-size GLE can also be optioned out with a 4MATIC AWD system, starting with the $57k GLE350 4MATIC with a 2.0L 4-cylinder with 255hp. The next in line is the $62k GLE450 4MATIC with a 3.0L inline 6-cylinder with 362hp. If you want the best, most powerful version of the GLE, the $79k GLE580 with a 483hp 4.0L 8-cylinder is the one to buy.
The Mercedes SUV flagship is the GLS, and the GLS comes with an AWD system as standard, so no matter if you go for the 6-cylinder $76k GLS450 or the almost $100k 8-cylinder GLS580, you are getting the 4MATIC system included.
Mercedes AMG AWD
All these aforementioned 4MATIC systems are developed for either comfort and safety, or off-road capabilities, but AMG 4MATIC systems are aimed at providing an athletic and capable AWD system that does not take away from the pure pleasure of driving.
Mercedes AMG 4MATIC systems are a lot more variable than usual when it comes to power delivery to a specific axle. AMG’s tend to send the most of the power to the rear wheels whenever the conditions allow it to do so, while a more regular 4MATIC is mostly aimed at safety, comfort, and ease of driving.
In 2017 Mercedes debuted the next-gen of the 4MATIC system called 4MATIC+, this system was developed on the E63 AMG S model, and the party trick of this system is the full rear-wheel-drive configuration with just a push of a button.
This also enabled the E63 to offer a specific drift mode, which would decouple the front axle, and make the E63 a full-on rear-wheel-drive hooligan.
Is Mercedes 4MATIC better than Audi Quattro or BMW xDrive?
It’s fairly tricky choosing the best system of the three because you are not able to find a car that offers all three of these. These are all brand-specific AWD systems, and comparing them is fairly unjustifiable, but the specifics of each individual system and the prioritization of each one differs quite substantially and is certainly worth a mention.
Whereas Mercedes prioritizes comfort, and ease of driving, the 4MATIC system is barely noticeable, BMW’s on the other hand are mostly tailored towards a sportier dynamic driving experience which means the xDrive emphasizes rear-wheel drive.
Audi is aimed at balancing the two for optimum grip and safety. Audis are the ones to buy if you want an AWD system for adverse weather conditions, BMW for dynamic driving, and Mercedes for ease of traveling.
Does it make any sense to not option the 4MATIC system on some Mercedes models?
Well, it depends. If you live in a southern climate, and you do not experience too much snow or rain, a regular RWD system will suffice. Furthermore, some models like the GLA or the C-Class are not uncommon with RWD systems, but GLE’s and GLC’s are.
This means that it is highly recommendable to opt for the 4MATIC system on the SUVs as it does make it more of an SUV, and the eventual resale value will be greatly affected if your non-4MATIC model goes against all the other predominantly 4MATIC system equipped cars.
Are Mercedes FWD or RWD as standard?
Mercedes cars are predominantly RWD, and only 4 cars use the FWD architecture. The GLA, B, CLA, and the A-class hatchback are FWD. The rest of the Mercedes lineup is either RWD or AWD. When it comes to SUVs, the GLS and the G-Class come with 4MATIC as standard, and the rest of the SUV lineup offers a 4MATIC option.
AMG’s are also all starting to be offered with an AWD system as well. This is because an AWD system offers better grip and performance, and the newest 4MATIC+ systems enable you to switch to RWD only if you so desire.