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spinedoc 09-15-2004 12:39 PM

Need advice, 4matic or Audi Quattro?
Looking for a winter vehicle, New England snow. I absolutely HATE SUV's so my only choice is an AWD car. I have narrowed it down to either Audi Quattro A8 or Mercedes E430 4matic (E500 if they exist in 4matic).

Hopefully I can get some opinions here, preferably without flaming. I really have heard some nightmare stories about Audi as a company in general and I am really steering towards the E class. Although the E class does not have the best reputation either, I think it would still be better than the Audi. I will probably buy a 1998 - 2000 depending on price.

So how is the E class 4matic in the snow? Can anyone provide a comparision between the AWD of the 4matic versus the Quattro? Is the 4matic all time AWD, or is it more of a 4 wheel traction control?

Thanks much guys!

dtf 09-15-2004 03:15 PM

Here is the extent of my knowledge: The 4Matic is electronically controlled 35/65 front/rear split and uses traction control to direct wheel torque to the wheel that grips. The Quattro uses a torque sensing differential to tranfer the power and also has limited slip differentials at the wheels (I think). The Audi and MB need only one tire to grip to get traction and pull you out of trouble.

Chamorro 09-15-2004 03:56 PM

Haven't driven a 4matic, but the Quattro system is definitely a great AWD system, at least on the 2003 I've driven. Very seamless operation, very sure-footed. On the flip side, I don't know that I'd trust Audis built during the years you're looking at.

Bob C. 09-15-2004 06:20 PM


No E500 4Matic in those years. The E430 4Matic is a bit rare. Either way, don't forget to put on four Nokian winter tires (or your favorite winter tire)!


radunegru 09-15-2004 06:30 PM

I am a mercedes fan but as far as Audi AWD is probably no comparison. Mercedes introduce the 4matic version to compete with Audi. In Germany the 4matic mercedes is practicaly unknown.I also test drive the audi alroad quttro and 4matic Eclass estate (wagon) perform better from my opinion.

Ethan 09-15-2004 07:53 PM

I don't know what New England snow is like, how often how deep how much ice.

Do some research on AWD systems they are a bit different from four-wheel-drive units

You have picked two very nice sophisticated high-end cars, If you were to ask me when the AWD sytems would blow away their two wheel drive versions all other things being equal I would set in damp wet conditions. On ice and snow things start to equal out with their two wheel drive versions.

Now put some high grip snow or rain Nokians on a Mitsubishi Evo or Subaru WRXi and empty the snowy roads these cars would be capable of amazing feats.

Just my opinion.

spinedoc 09-16-2004 07:42 PM

Thanx for the replies guys, I'm appreciative of the honesty. I have done some research into AWD versus 4wd, and the differences between all the AWD models. From what I gather the Audi system is one of the best engineered, but the only caveat is that it has a 50/50 split, which means less of a rear wheel drive car feel. The MB is 35/65. One advantage is that the slight understeer characteristic of the A8's is corrected with the 50/50 split.

I will probably go with a A8 for my New England Winters, and of course my SL for the spring and summer!

230/8 09-16-2004 08:03 PM

At the risk of being burned at the stake as a heretic, you may want to add the Subaru Lagacy Outback wagon to your shop-and-compare list. Great cars, simple and economical to run, good value at $23K new. They're not stylish, but great little workhorses. Use the Nokian winter tires (with studs) and you can almost climb the side of a building.

Just a thought, and yes I own one, along with two Mercedes.


3star 09-17-2004 03:17 PM

I have never driven the Audi Q so I can't comment on it, but I am extremely satisfied with my '99 E320 4 matic on snow. I don't even put snow tires on it...just use my Michelin Energy MXV4 all-seasons and reduce speed a little does the trick ;) .

kramlavud 09-17-2004 07:22 PM

When the A8 first arrived I heard that because of the aluminum body there was a very small number of shops (2 , 1 on each coast) that could repair damaged body panels. I suggest that you check with your insurance company for experience with this car. If very few shops can do the work, you might find that insurance is dear, and the time to repair is long. Also ask the Audi dealer for names of local body shops.



NiuginiBenz 09-17-2004 08:12 PM

No comments from me re the Audi Quattro as I know very little about that system but have a fair knowledge about 4-Matic after more than 2 years ownership.
The MB 4-Matic is actually not an AWD system. It works in 4 stages that come in very fast (<0.7 sec) when the sensors pick up a slip. There is more to it than this but basically the 4-Matic is a normal 2wd rear wheel drive. That is called "Stage 0". After slip it changes to "Stage 1" ie 35F/65R. More slip it goes to 50/50 (Stage 2). If that is not enough it goes to 50/50 + diff lock on the rear axle(Stage 3). When there is no more slip it goes back to stage 0 again. It made a fantastic difference on ice and snow but sometimes causes repair bills.....
I had it in Sweden during one pretty good winter and when the system works it is like driving on rails compared with 2wd that throws the rear end all over the place during accelleration.

dtf 09-17-2004 09:10 PM

If you are talking about the '90 version, that is the first generation 4Matic. I think MB stopped using it in '92 or '93(?). It was re-introduced as the current electronic version in '98. From '94 to '96 they used the lousy ASR system. Awful in the snow even with Hakkapeliitta 2s loaded up. I'm not sure what happened with the 5 speed transmission in '97 though. I always wondered how the first generation 4Matic worked. Sounds cool actually.

dtf 09-17-2004 09:13 PM

Why not go for the S8?

732002 09-18-2004 01:41 PM

I would also look at Subaru's. They sell for less
and don't break down as often. Try Legacy GT
or WRX?

zafarhayatkhan 09-18-2004 07:29 PM

Audi Quattro uses differential locks and the Mercedes 4matic system applies brakes to the spinning wheels. ML has a similar system.

Going uphill in an ML, if you apply brakes, the vehicle may start to slide down as breaking takes precedence over traction control.

Brakes may wear quicker in the 4matic if the system is used frequently.

Audi system is more efficient but expensive.

Mercedes system is cheaper but less efficient and relies heavily on electronics.

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