2009 Mercedes CL550 4Matic

David Yochum
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What athlete wouldn't appreciate a little more grace?

This summer, Mercedes-Benz will begin offering its 382-hp CL550 with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive - the first time any large Mercedes coupe will get such a feature.

Giving the CL greater traction - and therefore better low-grip handling - the coupe's permanent 4Matic all-wheel drive system helps the CL appeal to snow-belt drivers by splitting torque between the front and rear axles at a 45/55 ratio. The CL's center differential uses a twin-plate clutch to manage the torque distribution between the front and rear axles.

Integrated into Mercedes' seven-speed automatic transmission's case, the CL's updated 4Matic system debuted two years ago on the S-Class. Unlike the earlier 4Matic system, it doesn't require special suspension parts or a wider transmission tunnel. Additionally, the extra gears and shafts driving the CL's front wheels only add 154 pounds to the CL's weight, and improvements to the drivetrain ensure that fuel economy doesn't suffer.

And while clear Vienna skies didn't give us an opportunity to truly feel the CL's new 4Matic system, we can tell you it certainly doesn't hinder the Mercedes' ability to scramble up twisting country hillsides.

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