The Mercedes R-Class was branded to provide a different type of motoring experience. Like any other large claim, it’s a lot to live up to and will solely be determined by how the vehicle actually fares on the road. The R-Class range employs the same platforms as the Mercedes GL and ML 4x4s, but houses the type of space seen in an MPV. At the same time, the vehicles aim to provide the class felt in a saloon and the pragmatic nature of an estate under a long roof. So does the R-Class manage to seamlessly combine these features from different vehicles?
You can get the Mercedes R-Class as the 350 CDI or 300 CDI versions. Both of these have three rows of two seaters. The extra space surrounding these seats adds for extra luxury to the design. The R-Class pulls of being an estate, as once you fold the rear and middle seat rows flat and take out the central storage unit the vehicle expandes to 2385 litres. This impressive size gives it an advantage over the E-Class’ 1910 litres.
The R-Class features a high quality cabin. The interior’s six-seater capacity includes a third row that can accommodate tall six-footers. Visibility is seen all directions, but the D-pillars obstruct your view at the car’s right rear quarter. Stowage space is distributed throughout, with five central cubbyholes found amid the seats. The dashboard is just as impressive in looks and function. You’ll also be blown away by the innovative performance of the seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Ride quality is maintained thanks to the Mercedes R-Class’ weight. The front’s double wishbones and the multi-link rear go together to give passengers consistent comfort throughout the ride. And although steering tends to be vague, the wheel precisely responds in most directions. The R-Class competes a step ahead from other off-road vehicles. The brakes respond well and fade resistance completes the smoothness of the overall ride.
Excellent grip is provided for via the Standard 4MATIC four-wheel drive, letting you handle the large vehicle on all kinds of road conditions. You can shift among these conditions using the variable AirMATIC suspension by using either the Sport or Comfort options. Conventional coil sprung suspension can be experience in the R280 CDI.
Customers familiar with the S-Class will appreciate the same silence on the 350 CDI and 300 CDI R-Class engines. But the 300CDI performs slowly, reaching a 60mph sprint in 9.5 seconds. The 350CDI proves to be more powerful and faster at 7.7 seconds; the top speed at 146mph versus the 300CDI’s 134mph.
Although the R-Class’ weight offers comfort, the bulk can lead to unresponsiveness when going on town road speeds. This is expected of an off-roader meant for long-distance journeys, so drivers who need to take it out for short journeys will just have to get the hand of the wheel. Light steering helps for most drives but it can get heavy due to the vehicle’s size and weight when parking. You can get assistance from the parking sensor system.
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