Although the Mercedes Benz R-Class is an imposingly large vehicle it is relatively quick for example the R 500 takes just 6.9 seconds from rest to 62 mph but still returns around 21 mpg combined (both wheelbases).
Although the Mercedes Benz R-Class is an imposingly large vehicle it is relatively quick for example the R 500 takes just 6.9 seconds from rest to 62 mph but still returns around 21 mpg combined (both wheelbases). It’s already delivering almost 90 per cent of its maximum torque from 2000 rpm, with the maximum 460 Nm delivered between 2700 and 4750 rpm, which is pretty impressive.
The 24 valve, V6 petrol engine that powers the R 350 displays similar flexibility and variable camshaft timing and intake ducts have produced an exceptionally flat torque curve resulting in excellent response from low engine speeds and relaxed everyday driving. The R 350 accelerates from 0-62 mph in 8.3 seconds and returns 24.8 mpg combined (long wheelbase model 24.6 mpg).
The V6 diesel in the R 320 CDI is among the most powerful in itS-Class and generates an outstanding torque figure of 510 Nm from as low as 1600 rpm. Its broad capabilities are such that it can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 8.8 seconds, taking a similar time to sprint from 37 to 75 mph, achieving a combined cycle fuel consumption of 30.4 mpg (both wheelbases).
All the engines use the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, there is not a manual option. Power is delivered to the road through permanent all-wheel drive, complete with 4ETS Electronic Traction System and ESP.
On an 845 mile trip we averaged 24 mpg from the R 320 CDI, which considering the touring pace and the Cornish roads we considered quite reasonable. The diesel engine is noticeable on starting from cold but as soon as it warms up it is not particularly intrusive. It was quite rewarding if pushed hard, delivering quite a nice audible grunt.
The 7-speed automatic gearbox is a gem, offering pretty much seamless gear changes, although occasionally it can be caught out, especially up hill. The steering column mounted gear selector can initially prove to be frustrating, especially when you want to reverse as you can forget which way to knock the lever. You can also change manually using the switches on the back of the steering wheel, but we feel that this is a novelty which soon wears off and in everyday driving conditions we simply left it in drive.
Our test car was fitted with the optional AirMATIC suspension which at £880 offers level adjustment and an adaptive damping system. It works on a speed-dependent basis and automatically lowers the suspension by 20 mm when 75 mph is reached, which in turn reduces the drag and helps to sooth mpg figures. When the speed falls below 37 mph, it returns to its normal level. Alternatively the driver can raise the suspension by as much as 50 mm at speeds of up to 25 mph to obtain more ground clearance, over rough terrain for example. AirMATIC will also provide an all-round level control function to compensate for heavy loads.
Mercedes Benz R-Class Road Test Data
|Model Reviewed||Mercedes Benz R 320 CDI Sport|
|Performance (manufacturers data)|
|0 - 62 mph||8.8 Seconds|
|Top Speed||134 mph|
|CO2 Emissions (NEDC Figures)||g/km|
|Economy (NEDC Figures)|
|Extra Urban||37.2 mpg|
|Euro NCAP Rating||TBA|
|Price (when tested on the 09/05/06)||£41,425 OTR|