In a class of its own
Mercedes-Benz gives its people mover a facelift, writes Stuart Martin
AN ALL-DIESEL line-up has been installed for the updated Mercedes-Benz peoplemover, the R-Class.
It has a new look which the company hopes will improve its sales appeal, as well as bring it into line with the bulk of the Mercedes-Benz range.
R-Class product manager John Vasilj says the facelift for the rationalised R range involves a reshaped nose to introduce the new model line-up, which will initially be sold only in a short wheelbase model.
The long-wheelbase R 350 CDI is expected to wear a $110,000 price tag when it joins its smaller sibling in the second quarter of next year, but neither model will be offered with petrol drivetrains.
‘‘The diesel is a longer-term trend — the customer preference is for R diesel,’’ he says.
THERE’S a high asking price for the entry-level R 300 CDI short- wheelbase — starting from $92,900 — but for that you get 20-inch wheels (up from 18-inch), all-wheel drive, insulated glass, bi-xenon headlights, a trip computer, auto-dimming mirrors inside and out, a reversing camera, ‘‘privacy’’ tint for the rear windows, an automatic boot, satellite navigation, and a six-CD sound system with Bluetooth phone link all now standard.
IT’S all about the look of the new R-Class as the fundamentals of the engine, gearbox and safety systems are largely unchanged.
There’s the seven-speed automatic and the 140kW/440Nm turbodiesel V6, as well as the Benz PreSafe safety system.
THE outgoing R-Class was far from the nicest-looking Mercedes-Benz, with droopy front-end styling; the new R carries all-new sheet metal for- ward of the A-pillar, which the company says aims at giving it a more dynamic and muscular appearance.
MOST machines that wear the three-pointed star have safety as part of the DNA and the R is no exception.
There’s all-wheel drive, the PreSafe system, a reversing camera, dual front and side airbags for first and second row passengers, curtain airbags, three-point seat belts with belt force limiters and pretensioners for all outer seats.
THERE’S no doubting this is a cruiser, with space for the family and a couple of friends. The new R-Class feels a little lighter on its feet, but it’s still no bantamweight at 2100kg.
The diesel is reasonably quiet but it needs a solid prod of the long-travel throttle pedal to get moving, as the outputs are being put to work to shift a serious kerb weight even before the kids and their gear are on board.
Vision forward is good, looking rearward is less enlightening — headrests and a big rear pillar make it restricted, but the camera is standard, thankfully.
A MUCH improved look for the Mercedes-Benz family transporter will mean it gets parked closer to the clubhouse and day spa.