Road Test

Road Test: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350 CDI 4Matic

February 27, 2010

MB_E350CDI_01Mercedes-Benz new E-class is now available also with 4Matic which is Mercedes term for their all-wheel-drive system. Timing couldn’t have been better, because new E-Class 4Matic arrives in Finland same time with the best winter for many years. Meaning there is a lot of snow and freezing weather to keep the roads just nicely slippery. You couldn’t wish for a better situation to test the capabilities of the new four-wheel drive. In the morning there is light snow cover on top of the car, so once again I have to clean the car from the snow. Task which have become a bit too familiar this winter. But for some reason, this doesn’t bother me today at all. Maybe it’s because soon I will get the taste of the new E-class 4Matic.

The E-Class uses the same kind of 4Matic system as in C- and S-class. The structure is both compact and light. The latest-generation 4Matic only adds 50 to 70 kilograms of extra weight (depending on model) and compact design takes less space than before. As a result, no modifications to the bodyshell are required. The compact design also helps to improve noise and vibration levels. The 4Matic transfer case, featuring a planetary centre differential and a pair of bevel gears acting as a lateral output to the front axle, is integrated into the standard-specification 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission.

4Matic system offer a 45:55 torque split between the front and rear axles. The multi-disc differential lock is also able to shift the drive torque between the front and rear axles, varying the split between 30:70 and 70:30 as the road conditions dictate. When pulling away in wintry conditions, the E-Class 4Matic models are designed to develop maximum traction. To this end, certain road conditions are automatically detected and the interventions of the 4ETS electronic traction control system adjusted so as to achieve the greatest possible acceleration while minimising wheel slip, ensuring optimum directional stability in the process. This strategy also allows the vehicle to pull away under the most adverse conditions, such as when one side of the vehicle is on an icy slope or both wheels on the front or rear axle have limited grip. On twisting roads covered with snow and ice, vehicle stability is primarily controlled by the ASR acceleration skid control system’s regulation of engine torque. The ASR control thresholds are adjusted according to the driving situation based on the vehicle’s longitudinal and lateral dynamic readings as continuously measured by the ESP sensor system. If vehicle stability is to be maintained, the longitudinal force when cornering must be controlled by means of engine torque regulation in such a way that there are sufficient reserves of lateral force at all times. In order to comply with this physical correlation, when cornering on road surfaces with a low friction coefficient the control thresholds for engine torque regulation at the wheels on the outside of the bend are reduced considerably so that the tyres can develop sufficient lateral force.

This all sounds very good on a paper and on the road it feels just as good. 4Matic works nicely and car feels well-balanced. In case you want to enjoy a bit more of the ride, you can easily turn the ESP off without the fear of losing control. You really have to work hard before you get into any trouble and even then it is easy to get back in line.

In the E-class the 4Matic is available with three engines. E 350 CDI BlueEfficiency, E 350 and E 500. We got to test this 3-liter diesel offering 231 horsepower and 540 Newton metres, which are more than enough in these slippery conditions. With this light weight all-wheel-drive system the fuel consumption is only between 0.2 and 0.6 litres more per hundred kilometres than on a comparable model with conventional drive. 4Matic makes the new E-class even more tempting and it would a be desirable accessory also with smaller engines. These big diesel and petrol engines are of course our favorites, but with the higher price they make the E-class 4MATIC quite a luxury item.



  • 6-cylinder diesel
  • 2987cc
  • turbo


  • 170 kW ( 231 hp) / 3800rpm


  • 540 Nm / 1600-2400rpm


  • 7-speed automatic
  • AWD


  • 7.1 sec

Top speed

  • 241 km/h

Fuel consumption

  • 7.0 l/100km

CO2 emissions

  • 183 g/km




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