What is VW 4Motion four-wheel drive?

Many VWs are now offered with 4Motion – the brand’s in-house term for four-wheel drive. What exactly is it, how does it work and what models are offered with it? Read on for all the information you need.

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What is VW 4Motion?

Like many other manufacturers, VW has a brand name for its four-wheel-drive system. Dubbed 4Motion, it sends the engine’s power to all four wheels on some models to improve traction, handling, acceleration and off-road ability.

4Motion automatically distributes power to whichever set of wheels requires it. It automatically senses where the power is needed, so you don’t need to alter the system to reflect the terrain you’re driving on – you simply drive normally and 4Motion does the rest of the work.

Unlike some four-wheel-drive systems, there are two different types of 4Motion. If the car’s engine is mounted lengthways – as it is in the Touareg and older Phaeton – a mechanical central differential transfers power to the rear wheels when needed. Smaller models with transverse mounted engines such as the Golf and Passat use an electronic coupling to control where the power is going instead.

In practice, you won’t notice any real difference between the two systems on the road. The mechanical version is marginally better for off-roading, while the electronic one is more suited to on-road driving and light off-roading, and causes a smaller drop in fuel economy compared to a two-wheel drive model. To save fuel, both versions send power to just the front wheels when four-wheel drive isn’t needed.

What cars come with 4Motion?

4Motion is not available on smaller, cheaper VWs such as the Up, Polo and Golf. However, you can get it on the high performance Golf R and off-road Golf Alltrack.

It’s also offered as an option on high-spec GT and R-Line Passat and Passat Estate models, along with the ruggedised Passat Alltrack. All trim levels of the Tiguan family crossover can be fitted with it plus all versions of the Touareg large SUV.

4Motion is occasionally offered with a manual gearbox but is mostly only available with an automatic DSG gearbox. Pay attention to your choice of trim and engine to really make the most of your budget if you want to spec 4Motion.

Is VW 4Motion worth it?

If you predominantly drive in the city away from extremes of weather, 4Motion will probably cost you money without ever coming in handy. If, however, you live in more rural areas or places commonly affected by rain and snow, it could make the difference between getting stuck and getting home.

That said, 4Motion technology is quite a bit more expensive than two-wheel drive models. For example, a 2.0-litre diesel Tiguan S with 4Motion costs from £27,885 compared to £26,190 for the same model with two-wheel drive – a sizeable £1,695 increase.

Ultimately, 4Motion will be worth it depending on where you normally drive and in what conditions. It’s not cheap but, if it gives you peace of mind on long winter journeys, it might be a good addition to your next VW.

Save money on your next car

Check out the great VW range to pick your ideal one or view the great carwow discounts on our car deals page. Use our car chooser tool for help picking your next car and use our PCP calculator to get an idea of how much it’ll cost per month.

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