Mercedes Benz At The International Motor Show - The R-Class Grand Sports Tourer | Part Three

R-Class: premiere of the European version of the Grand Sports Tourer

The IAA in Frankfurt will also serve as the backdrop for the world premiere of a special European version of the new Mercedes Benz R-Class. This car is 235 mm shorter than the recently unveiled long wheelbase version of the Grand Sports Tourer, which features a unique vehicle concept combining the advantages of several different automotive categories - such as the sport saloon, estate car, van and sport utility vehicle (SUV) - to create a new, distinct vehicle class focusing on design, dynamism and dimensions.

The Grand Sports Tourer concept is the answer for contemporary-minded people looking for an automobile that is both versatile and agile. The Grand Sports Tourer also offers a spacious interior, unparalleled safety and the very best in comfort for up to six occupants in its European version, the new R-Class. In addition, this Mercedes Benz model captivates passengers with its formal aesthetics, sumptuous nature and, last but not least, its dynamic driving pleasure.

The body of the European version of the R-Class measures 4,922 mm in length, corresponding to that of a premium saloon, but significantly outperforming it in terms of its spacious interior. The latter is primarily the result of the advanced vehicle concept and its carefully conceived interior layout, which has been thought through down to the very last detail. The first and second rows of seats are 860 mm apart, for example, corresponding to the distance in a luxury saloon. But the European Grand Sports Tourer also stands out with regard to headroom, which amounts to 1,014 mm in the second row of seats and 935 mm in the third row. The width of the interior also exceeds that of other upper-range automobiles, with elbow room ranging from 1,550 mm at the front and 1,557 mm in the rear.

In typical Mercedes style, the new R-Class satisfies sport- and leisure-oriented families demanding a versatile car that can quickly and easily be modified to perform different transport jobs: the four rear seats fold down individually, allowing the loading space to be increased to a maximum of 1,950 litres (based on the VDA measuring system) - considerably more space than that offered by estate cars. Cargo can be easily loaded and unloaded, thanks to the 1.98 metre-long level loading surface and the large EASY-PACK hatch with its optional remote-control operation.

Engines: six and eight cylinder engines ranging from 224 hp to 306 hp

Powerful six and eight cylinder engines provide the kind of driving pleasure and comfort that is typical for Mercedes. The dynamic V8 drive can accelerate the R 500 from zero to 62 mph in 6.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 152 mph. The vehicle’s engine programme also includes an all-new six-cylinder diesel with third-generation common-rail direct injection. Even at 1,600 rpm, the V6 engine delivers a maximum torque of 510 Nm, the highest value in its displacement class. The R 320 CDI has a combined fuel consumption of 30 mpg.

Meanwhile, the new V6 petrol engine (272 hp) can propel the R 350 from zero to 62 mph in 8.4 seconds and attain a top speed of 143 mph.

All of the engines work in tandem with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, which comes as standard equipment. Another special feature is DIRECT SELECT, an electronic gear-selection system that makes it possible for the Mercedes engineers to dispense with the usual automatic selector lever in the centre console and instead fit a transmission lever on the steering column. Additional steering-wheel gearshift buttons allow the driver to manually preselect the seven gears in order to fully exploit the capabilities of the six or eight cylinder engine in all driving situations.

Permanent all-wheel drive, the electronically controlled 4ETS traction system and ESP team up to offer peerless driving safety and keep the new R-Class safely on course, even when faced with very bad road conditions. These systems all make up part of the vehicle's standard specification, as does air suspension on the rear axle. Mercedes customers also have the option of AIRMATIC all-round air suspension, which is combined with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS) so that motorists can raise the car body by 50 mm when driving along bumpy roads. At speeds above 75 mph, AIRMATIC automatically lowers the body by 20 mm to reduce wind resistance.

continues... | Part Four
Published 9 September 2005 Melanie Carter

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