Tenacious grip and prodigious acceleration from the four-cylinder A45 AMG convinced AMG to roll out all-wheel drive across its ever-expanding line-up.
The downside is right-hand drive markets such as Australia will have to wait for all-new models, rather than mid-life updates like the E-Class, to feel the difference.
AMG’s E-Class project leader Dr Gerald Thater says the go-fast division of Mercedes-Benz quickly determined there is no downside to AWD as the weight gain is more than offset by higher performance. “I’d take all-wheel drive in the E-Class because it still drives like a rear-wheel car, but the limits are greater,” he says.
“It adds to the performance in the dry, especially on the racetrack. In other times, in rain or snow, it adds more safety by spreading the torque across the drivetrain.” The system uses a planetary gearset off the seven-speed wet-clutch transmission to drive. Unlike many AWD options, the AMG version fixes torque distribution at 33/67 front-to-rear.
The A-Class based A45 and CLA45 will be the first all-paw AMGs in Australia when they arrive later this year. They will be followed in 2014 by a C63 model but Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says rear-wheel and all-wheel drive versions will be sold.
“There’s a market for both - traditional C63 buyers will still want rear drive,” McCarthy says. “That will also apply to the E-Class and CLS when the new models arrive... we plan to have both drivetrains across the range.”