Up to now, snow country was not exactly home territory for Mercedes' compact class. But that's set to change. Now the Stuttgart manufacturer is offering some compact models in all-while drive, including the sporty CLA sedan and the A and B class. Mercedes originally developed the 4Matic all-wheel drive for its GLA compact SUV.
Sounds great, but what's it like in snowy conditions? To find out, we'll team up with driving instructor Violetta Weykopf on a testing ground. Weykopf guides the A-class with ease, even under snowy conditions.
Weykopf says it's difficult terrain. The snow is packed and the roadway is rutted and bumpy. A conventional car with front-wheel or rear-wheel drive would have trouble accelerating, or even just getting started. She's in an A-class compact that normally has front-wheel drive. But this one has "Torque on demand" and can deliver power to all four wheels. She's going to accelerate hard from zero... And the rear axle is powered from the beginning. ... With 4Matic all-wheel drive, the car accelerates like a dream. Now she's driving with the electronic stability program, or ESP. In her next test drive, she'll shut it off to see how the car drives without it. Weykopf explains that shutting off the ESP can be a good idea under difficult conditions -- like in deep snow. So it's worth seeing what happens. Now she's driving without the ESP system. Next, she tests the handling by stepping on the gas. She does have to counter-steer, but the car is still under control and very responsive. With even more speed, she's still counter-steering. ... But even through the turns, handling and control is excellent.
Here's another comparison. On the left, the all-wheel A-class with ESP. On the right, the without it. It's pretty good but we still recommend sticking with the electronic stabilizer in most cases. ... The compact also comes equipped with a seven-gear dual clutch transmission.
We tested the A class as an A250 4MATIC. It puts out a nice 155 kilowatts and 350 Newton-meters of torque. In Germany, this model retails for 26-thousand euros and up. That makes it a bit over 2-thousand euros more than the corresponding front-wheel version.