Mercedes-Benz’s fourth-generation 4Matic all-wheel-drive technology will come to the United States in the fourth quarter of this year in the guise of the S550 4Matic.

Mercedes’ 4Matic system splits the torque 45/55 front to rear with the goal of giving the car the on-road handling characteristics of rear-wheel drive. Gunter Fischer, senior manager for development of 4Matic, says having a full-time system allowed Mercedes engineers to reduce the size and weight of the rear differential because it is not responsible for routing all of the engine torque to the pavement. Engineers were able to reduce the size of the transmission and transfer case to allow it to fit in the tunnel used for the rear-drive S-Class, so no chassis modifications were needed. Only the engine cradle, front suspension, steering rack and engine oil pan (to allow for the front driveshafts) differ from awd to rwd versions. The entire awd system adds just 159 pounds to the vehicle’s weight.

The S550 4Matic will come to States with a 382-hp, 391-lb-ft V8 good for a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds.

The 4Matic option will add about $3,000 to the car’s $86,000 base price.

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