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Mercedes-Benz teases CLA45 AMG

Born slippy: Mercedes-Benz is testing the effectiveness of its new 4Matic all-wheel-drive system for transverse-engined vehicles like the CLA (pictured).

Hi-tech AWD system detailed as Benz confirms CLA will closely resemble concept

12 Dec 2012

MERCEDES-BENZ has issued official ‘spy shot’ images of the hot AMG version of its upcoming CLA coupe-styled compact sedan and confirmed the production car will bear an “almost 1:1” resemblance to the Concept Style Coupe unveiled at the Beijing motor show in April.

The German luxury car-maker has also revealed details of the CLA45’s hi-tech all-wheel-drive system, which along with its turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine – claimed to produce “well over” 400Nm of torque – will be shared with the A45 AMG sports hatch.

Mercedes-Benz Cars Australia/Pacific (MBA) corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis said Australia will receive the CLA in the second half of next year, with the CLA45 following in early 2014.

As reported, the A-Class will arrive in March 2013, followed by the A45 AMG in the second half.

The version of Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system developed for transverse engined, front-drive-based vehicles is claimed to be 25 per cent lighter and more fuel-efficient than rival systems.

This is mostly due to a compact power take-off unit (PTU) integrated into and sharing lubrication with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, compared with the traditional separate transfer box arrangement.

4 center imageFrom top: Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe A45 AMG.

Friction is minimised through the use of tapered roller bearings.

The rear axle incorporates an electro-hydraulically actuated multi-disc clutch that mainly leaves drive to the front axle.

However, it can react “in milliseconds” when the electronic stability control (ESC) system detects speed differences between the axles.

At this point a hydraulic pump integrated with the rear axle gear unit is automatically activated to engage the clutch and distribute the required amount of torque to the rear wheels, with pressure regulated by an ESC-controlled proportioning valve.

Mercedes describes the principle of operation as “as often as necessary, as rarely as possible” and says drive to the rear axle can be stopped as quickly as it can be applied.

The AWD system is the first port of call when addressing understeer or oversteer, with the ESC intervening as a last resort to keep the vehicle stable.

As a result, Mercedes claims, the system manages to deliver in the areas of fuel efficiency, driving dynamics and safety.

Three driver-selectable modes also affect AWD system behaviour, with Eco mode reducing the amount of torque sent to the rear wheels and Manual or Sport modes sharpening responses and distributing more torque rearwards.

On AMG variants this works in tandem with a three-stage ESC system that progressively enables more slip during spirited driving for greater driver involvement.

Mercedes claims this, plus the AWD system “specially adapted” for the AMG-tuned engine will make the CLA45 AMG “one of the most dynamic, powerful and efficient four-cylinder coupes around”.

4Matic will also be available in some markets on less powerful variants of the CLA, which like the A-Class and B-Class it shares its modular MFA underpinnings with will be available in non-AMG form with engines producing up to 155kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

A fourth model to be based on the MFA architecture, and a good fit for all-wheel-drive, will be the GLA compact SUV due to arrive in Australia in 2014.

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