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What does 4Motion mean on Volkswagen?

VW 4Motion is the brand’s name for their swanky four-wheel-drive system – but how does it work?

grey volkswagen touareg

4Motion meaning

There isn’t much mystique when it comes to revealing the meaning of Volkswagen’s ‘4Motion’ branding – it’s simply the name of the brand’s impressive four-wheel-drive (4WD) system.

It’s an innovative setup that goes further than traditional 4WD models.

You can find the 4Motion setup in a range of the brand’s models, including its SUVs but also models like VW Polo.

If you see a VW model labelled as ‘4Motion’ it will always be four-wheel-drive.

How does VW 4Motion work?

4Motion works by sending engine power to both the front and rear axle and wheels, rather than just one set.

In front or rear-wheel-drive cars, power is only sent to one set of axles and wheels.

There are plenty of VW models with this setup, such as the rear-wheel Golf GTI.

The 4Motion system intends to offer impressive grip on the roads in all weather conditions.

The system is quick to react to any wheel slips and engages with the active safety systems onboard your VW to send the correct amount of power to the wheels with the best current grip.

Even small slips are detected by the 4Motion system, meaning it can quickly react and alert the dynamic sensors, engine management system, and gearbox in your vehicle.

The different types of 4Motion systems

Different types of 4Motion systems were built to meet different demands.

Haldex clutch

The job of the Haldex clutch is to gather information from different areas of your car to control the transfer of torque.

It will take information on the engine performance, transmission, brakes, and the driver’s own actions.

This system distributes power across the front and rear axles and uses sensors to detect wheel slip.

If the system detects slip to the front, it will send torque to the rear to balance the system, and vice versa.

This is all done using an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch that reacts to the sensors.

Pressure on the clutch is then regulated by electronic pumps, pressing the plates against each other as this pressure rises.

Overall, the job of the Haldex clutch is to ensure the driving force is always being delivered to the axle and wheels with the best traction.

Most of the time the power will be sent to the front, but the clutch will send power to the rear when needed.

Torsen differential

The Torsen differential is slightly more complicated to get your head around, but essentially regulates power between the front and rear axles through torque sensing.

It’s a mechanical self-locking centre differential that reacts to the rotational forces between the axles and sends torque to the front or rear as needed.

Connected by two ‘worm gears’, they limit different rotational speeds while balancing speeds as you corner.

Most of the time, the Torsen system will have an even split of power between the front and the rear wheels.

a grey vw tiguan driving on a country road

What does 4Motion mean on a VW Tiguan?

The Volkswagen Tiguan has the option to electronically control the 4Motion system, and this comes as standard on the Escape model and as an optional extra on the S, SE, and Sport.

The Tiguan also has an off-road driving mode that offers additional safety tech that will keep you secure on all terrain.

  • Auto-release parking brake to reduce clutch wear during hill starts

  • Autonomous braking system adjusts for braking on loose ground

  • Gear pre-selection option for automatic gearboxes

  • Adjusted Electronic Differential lock for counteracting slip

  • Hill descent assist for steep slopes using all four-wheel braking

How good is VW 4Motion?

Volkswagen 4Motion is a brilliant feature if you’re often going to be heading off-road or driving on uneven surfaces.

The technology is superb for keeping you safely planted on the ground while tackling testing weather conditions.

If you live in an area where the weather can be unpredictable and you’re often battling rain and ice, the 4Motion feature would be ideal.

However, the system does usually use extra fuel and is a more expensive option.

This might mean that it’s not justifiable to the average road user and you likely won’t get value for money.

Those motorists who live an outdoorsy lifestyle will more likely make use of the 4Motion setup and find it a valuable addition to their vehicle.

Overall, it’s an impressive four-wheel-drive system that goes much further than the typical setup.

In slippery conditions, your grip will be massively improved, but traction will also be improved for performance-based reasons.

VW models that feature the 4Motion feature

The 4Motion four-wheel-drive technology isn’t restricted to purely SUVs and typical off-roaders – it can also be found in other VW models.

The Volkswagen Golf R gets 4Motion to assist with its performance capabilities rather than to help it off-road, making this a sporty hatchback with an improved driving experience.

Another Golf option with 4Motion equipment is the Golf Alltrack, a model dedicated to off-roading.

It’s a fresh spin on the beloved Golf that’s an ideal step-up for outdoorsy motorists.

The VW Arteon is another non-SUV choice with 4Motion as standard in the higher trims.

It’s another model that uses the tech for improved performance and not a focus on heading off-road.

If you are after an SUV, the Tiguan and Touareg are great options. 4Motion feels especially at home in these, especially with that added ride height.

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