4MOTION all-wheel drive by Volkswagen is a successful piece of technology with many different facets. The current extreme weather conditions present the ideal opportunity to take a more in-depth look at the technology and also take a brief look back.

Fantastic snow landscapes all over Germany, temperatures well below the zero-degree mark – a winter fairytale. On the roads, however, this poses a very special challenge for drivers and vehicles. For decades, all-wheel drive has been helping here, preventing the wheels from spinning and improving traction.

In 1984, Volkswagen launched a brand new product onto the market in the form of the Passat Estate GT syncro equipped with all-wheel drive. Ever since then, Volkswagens with four powered wheels have been the cornerstones of the brand’s model range. And Volkswagen has never stopped enhancing the technology in its all-wheel drive systems. From 1996 onwards, the name “syncro” was replaced by “4MOTION”. Nowadays, the all-wheel drive system is connected to the cutting-edge assist systems and offers better performance than ever before. So, models with all-wheel drive are not just in high demand among winter sports fans.

“We have been building cars with all-wheel drives for almost 40 years”

says Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars Board of Management responsible for Technical Development. “Thanks to our systematic development process, we are able to offer this technology at an attractive price. As a result, huge numbers of customers can experience the benefits of all-wheel drive – this is an advantage when it comes to driving safety and enjoyment.”

Volkswagen offers various versions of the 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. The most common version is the system with an electronically controlled multiplate clutch; it is used in models with transverse engines (e.g. T-Roc, Tiguan, Passat, Arteon, etc.). This version mainly powers the front wheels. If the electronics system notices a loss of traction, it immediately activates the rear wheels as well. This happens so quickly and smoothly that you tend not to notice how the all-wheel drive is improving the driving experience. Because only the front wheels are powered when conditions are good, these vehicles are also very economical.

The 4MOTION all-wheel drive has many strengths

Its central control unit constantly monitors the condition of the driving dynamics in the vehicle and wheels and distributes the driving forces intelligently thanks to its lightning-quick response times. The benefits include:

  • Better traction
  • Refined driving behaviour
  • Optimum powertrain strategy, e.g. for cornering, overrun mode or towing
  • Sophisticated balance of forces between the front and rear axle
  • Maximum stability both on-road and off-road