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First Drive: Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Mercedes' space oddity remains a quirky choice - despite a mild revamp - but one that's not without appeal.

   



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| First Drive | New York, USA | Mercedes-Benz R-Class |

Take a bit of G-Class SUV, a chunk of S-Class luxury saloon and a pinch of A-Class and you might come up the R-Class. Mercedes' big seven-seat R was an anomaly when it was introduced in 2006 and it remains so today. It's been improved with more kit, revamped styling, greater power and sizeable leaps in economy and emissions though it remains something of a space oddity. Yet it's certainly not without its qualities.

In the Metal

The rather unusual looks of the previous R-Class have been thoroughly worked over at the front. Sharper, shapelier lights, LED driving lamps housed in a new lower bumper and a far bolder and more upright grille combine to make the R-Class significantly more handsome than its predecessor.

Inside, the changes are very minor, with two-tone trims and some additional standard kit being about the sum of the changes. It's massive though - in either standard or long wheelbase versions - with seating for seven on all models.

What you get for your Money

Aside from the massive amount of metal and plentiful seating, Mercedes has chucked plenty of equipment at the R-Class. Given its size the parking sensors are welcome, other kit including bi-xenon lights with Active Light Function, electrically adjusted and heated front seats, iPod connectivity, a seven-speed automatic transmission, Bluetooth telephony, privacy glass, climate control and satellite navigation. With the 350 CDI model as tested you also get 4MATIC four-wheel drive, while the R 300 CDI makes do with rear-wheel drive.

Driving it

Consider the R-Class as a tool for carrying people, as otherwise you'll be disappointed. If you need something to carry up to seven people in real comfort then the R-Class is very effective indeed. Refinement is impressive, with the diesel only vocal when it's really pushed, while wind noise is well suppressed too. The suspension lets it down a bit, with the air springs struggling sometimes to smother bumps, lessening the otherwise excellent comfort.

Sitting high you get an SUV-rivalling view of the road ahead and the parallels don't stop there. The R-Class feels rather SUV in its driving dynamics, with a fair bit of roll and pitch apparent, while the steering is lacking in information at the wheel. What is evident though is how easy the R-Class is to drive, it shrugging off enormous mileages with impunity. The 261bhp V6 CDI turbodiesel provides excellent flexibility thanks to 457lb.ft of torque, while emissions and economy - these improving by nine percent despite a 40bhp increase in power - are reasonable given the R 350 CDI 4MATIC's performance. Underlining its potency is a 7.6-second 0-62mph time.

Worth Noting

Two wheelbases are offered, with both coming as standard with seven seats. If you want less you can choose individual seating in the rear, giving six large and comfortable chairs and easing access to the rearmost ones. Use all the seats and luggage space is pretty tight in each, but that's true of most cars offering a third row of seating.

Summary

It's unlikely that the changes Mercedes has made will have many more people rushing to the showrooms to buy an R. However, they do make it more appealing for those replacing the original, or those who were put off previously by its strange looks. Seemingly existing in a niche of its own, the R-Class isn't for everyone, but for those attracted by its mixed qualities of SUV, luxury car and MPV then this revised model is better than ever.

Kyle Fortune - 16 Jun 2010



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2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.



2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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