Car tested: 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 66,51,670/-
Mercedes-Benz launched the R-Class in India in October last year. The R-Class is the first full size luxury MPV in the country and made its global debut in 2006. Based on the Vision GST (Grand Sports Tourer) concept, the R-Class is built on the W251 chassis, and is positioned between the M-Class and the GL-Class. It was initially marketed by Mercedes-Benz as a Sports Cruiser and later as a Family Tourer, we find out exactly what it is in this review of the 2011 Mercedes R-Class.
Exteriors – At the front end, the bonnet, wings, radiator grille, headlamps and bumper have been completely redesigned from the previous generation. In conjunction with bi-xenon headlamps, a chrome insert enhances the integrated LED daytime driving lights. The bonnet of the Mercedes R-Class has marked contours, and is more arrow-shaped at the front edge. The wider, higher radiator grille is more steeply angled, while the bumper cladding is more striking, with clear-cut lines. The side recesses in the bumper, where the fog lamps and daytime driving lights are located, are spaced well apart and give the front section an impression of width.
With the coupé-like lines of the window area, the larger exterior mirror housings are set well away from the doors and are held by slim stems. The mirror housings in the vehicle colour have integrated indicator repeaters in the form of a stylised arrow. The rear section continues the design idiom of the front, with a new bumper cladding, modified tail lights, a diffuser and integrated tailpipe trim emphasizing the width with more horizontal structures, as at the front. The bumper also picks up the line of the side skirts, giving the effect of a continuous line running around the entire bodywork. Tail lights with LED and fibre optic technology, new exterior contours and horizontally arranged lighting functions lend the finishing touches to the rear section.
Interiors – The interiors of the R-Class feature two-tone appointments, where the base colour almond beige can be combines with the contrasting shade mocha brown. The colour combinations are used on the dashboard, steering wheel, centre console, seats, door linings and floor coverings. The design is very similar to the M-Class, however where the R-Class is different is the sheer level of space it offers in all rows.
The R-Class has been positioned as the royal class of family cars and the space justifies the tagline. There is more than ample amount of legroom in the second row, almost equal to that of a luxury car. Get into the third row and you will surprised that tall people can get in there too and not feel uncomfortable. Every passenger has got AC vents around him and lots of cup holders too. The seats are very comfortable with excellent support. The second row of seats have an LCD each behind the front seats, which can play DVD and USB.
The dials and needles have a white background and are easy to read. The display on the instrument cluster tells you a host of details including time, tyre pressure, audio details and various other tidbits when the car is performing any action (i.e. lowering or getting raised). The Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system is one of the best sounding system we have come across.
Should you need to carry alot of luggage, the last row of seats fold. The tail gate has a button which when pressed closes the boot automatically. No need to manual exert pressure on the lid. It even has a sensor, which stops the boot from closing should something come in between.
Ride, Handling and Braking – A family carrier has to ride well and the R-Class does that with excellence. The ride can be adjusted to comfort or sport through a button on the center console. The low ground clearance can be an issue on rough roads, but you can increase the height of the nose by 2 inches via a button. Once the car crosses a certain speed, it again lowers the car automatically.
The R350 is not light by any means but when turned to sports setting it handles quite sharply for an MPV of this size. The car has various systems to ensure it goes where you point it, including an ESP system with trailer stabilization. What it essentially does is, it ensures the driver does not loose control even when he is towing a trailer by activating brakes and controlling the back and forth movement of the trailer. Not that we would be using this feature in India much. Brakes have a good amount of play but are very sharp and halt this two tonne monster in quick time.
Performance – The R-Class is powered by a 3498cc V6 petrol engine, which produces 272 bhp of power at 6000 RPM and 350 NM of torque between 2400 – 5000 RPM. While all this may sound good enough for a sports saloon, it is just about adequate for a vehicle tipping the scales at 2.2 tonnes. At lower revvs, the R350 feels underpowered and there is not much torque for city driving. When you floor the car, response is not that quick either and the 7G-Tronic box shifts into the next gear at just 5000 RPM. Activate the manual mode via the paddles on the steering wheel and everything changes. The R-Class all of a sudden senses urgency, it gains revvs very quickly and reaches 6800 RPM in no time. The sound at high revvs from this motor is absolute nirvana and in manual mode the gasoline motor in the R feels all of a sudden more than capable for the job.
However, a petrol powertrain for a family MPV seems quite ridiculous. We say so because the R-Class delivers a mileage of 5-6 kmpl in auto mode, which comes down to 4-5 kmpl when you start using the paddles. We don’t blame the engine at all, it is a fantastic unit. But it is not suited to a car weighing in excess of 2200 kgs. The R-Class also features 4Matic, which is Mercedes way of saying 4-wheel drive. This makes the car have average off-roading abilities. We say average, because even when the nose is raised, the R-Class cannot go on slushy terrain.
Conclusion – The Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a fantastic MPV. It has loads of space, excellent features, lot of safety equipment and one of the few cars in the market with ample amount of space for both passengers and luggage. However the company could have opted for a diesel engine considering the R-Class is a CBU. With petrol prices rising, a petrol powered R-Class does not make much sense but for those who can afford to run on gasoline, there are very few things which you can find at fault with this luxurious people carrier.
* Interior Finish
* Ride quality
* Engine sound
* Very well damped and lack of any kind of NVH
Whats Not So Cool
* Looks don’t please all
* Low end engine reponse
* Fuel efficiency
Mercedes-Benz R-Class Specifications : –
* Engine: 3498cc, V6
* Power: 272bhp @ 6000rpm
* Torque: 350Nm @ 2400~5000rpm
* Transmission: 7 G-Tronic
* Drive Type: All Wheel Drive
* Top Speed: 230kmph
* 0-100kmph: 8.3 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 05-06 kmpl (City), 06-07 kmpl (highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: DIRECT CONTROL suspension with selective damping syste
* Tires: 255/55/18 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Mechanical-hydraulic, dual circuit with ABS
* Safety: ABS, ESP, Dual SRS front airbags, Side airbags, Immobilizer, Seat belt warning , Adaptive high beam assist, Parking guidance system, Drowsiness detection system, LED daytime running lights
Mercedes-Benz R-Class Dimensions : –
* Overall length x width x height: 5157 mm X 1922mm X 1674mm
* Wheelbase:: 3215mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1661/1651 mm
* Turning Radius – 6.3m
* Ground clearance: 160mm
* Boot Volume: 633 liters (with third row folded)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres (13 reserve)
* Kerb Weight: 2230 kgs
* Co-efficient of drag: 0.32