Facelifted R-Class – a Merc for the family

Back in the day, before I was born and during the time I sported my baby teeth, you had your hatchbacks, sedans, station wagons and 4x4s – finish and klaar.


Now though, we’ve got “crossovers”, MPVs and even a CUV – “Classy Utility Vehicle” – as Ssangyong is proudly touting their new Korando model. BMW have also gone a little crazy, inventing niche segments nobody even thought were necessary. I’m talking about their products like their X6, which have been given the label “Sports Activity Vehicle” .They’ve also got that 5-Series GT, a sort of large hatchback with odd looks – certainly far from the agile-looking designs we’ve come to love and expect from the Bavarian automaker.


Mercedes-Benz have come to the party too. Looking at Merc’s brilliant history of sleek, graceful saloons, nobody would have ever thought a hatchback, MPV type of Mercedes would ever see daylight. Then the world was given the A-Class in the late 90s. The A-Class was followed by the B-Class – slightly larger in size, with a bulkier appearance than its A-Class sister. And recently, following those was the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.


Now everybody knows that products from Mercedes-Benz are for those people in society with slightly deeper pockets – the three-pointed star emblem is a symbol of success that says “Hey, I’m here”. So the Mercedes-Benz R-Class strikes me as an additional vehicle a well-heeled family would have, simply because the S-Class and SLK – already in the garage – aren’t ideally suited to carting around kids from soccer practice, transporting tons of groceries, and ferrying the family pets to the vet.


Late last year the Mercedes-Benz R-Class was given a bit of a mid-life update that saw the adoption of a fresher face. When you look at it from the front, it’s immediately obvious that you’re looking at a meaner, updated R-Class: that distinctive grille is wide and bold, and looks as though it might be able to swallow other cars on the road. Of course, the grille proudly wears the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star, which also adorns the top of the car’s bonnet.


The R-Class range consists of the R300 CDI BlueEfficiency, the R300 and the R500 4Matic.  The BlueEfficiency model features a V6 diesel engine that produces 140-kilowatts of power and 440 Newton-metres of torque. The R300 is powered by a V6 engine, which churns out 170-kilowatts, but less torque than the diesel derivative, with a figure of 300 Newton-metres. Finally, is the big daddy of the range, the R500. This model has a V8 powerplant which produces 285-kilowatts of power and 530 Newton-metres of torque.


As you would expect with a vehicle of this kind, the R-Class is loaded with creature comforts. The seats for driver and passenger have partial power adjustment, but ventilated and heated seats with full power adjustment are also available. Passengers in the rear have separate air-conditioning to those upfront, as part of the Thermotronic system and there are also rear sidebags. One can specify an array of options too, from a Harmon Kardon sound system, to an electric panoramic sliding glass sunroof.


According to the press release, to get into the R-Class, you’re looking at R582 400 for the R300 CDI standard and a figure of R823 400 for the R500 4MATIC LWB.

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