Slow-selling barge was a rare Benz misfire
THE unloved and unlovely Mercedes-Benz R-Class has left the showroom.
The slowest seller on the local Benz books has been dumped, removing one of the few genuine seven-seater wagons from price lists in Australia.
Benz says it intends to take up the slack with a seven-seater version of its just-updated E-Class, even though the back bench in the mid-sizer faces back into the traffic and sits in area most vulnerable to a rearend shunt.
‘‘ We knew the R-Class would not be available for much longer, so we moved to the E-Class,’’ says MercedesBenz spokesman David McCarthy.
He says R-Class production is now devoted entirely to China and the car worked well enough, even though in 2011— its best sales year— there were all of 325 down under deliveries. So far in 2013 the tally is 42 sales, compared with 90 last year.
‘‘ The vehicle didn’t really fit a category in Australia,’’ McCarthy says.
‘‘ It’s still being produced for China, but we cannot make a business case for it in Australia. It filled a niche and the update model went a lot better.
‘‘ The people who bought them really liked them and there are a few in use as limousines.’’
He says two customers even bought the hottest R of all, the R63 AMG with thumping V8 power and all-wheel drive.
McCarthy defends the E-Class seating layout, saying the back bench is really only for occasional use by youngsters and not full-time occupation.
‘‘ There are an E200, an E250 and an E400 available as seven-seaters. E-Class Estate has been a seven-seater for a couple of years,’’ he says.
‘‘ The sixth and seventh seats are obviously facing in a different direction but they have lap-sash seat belts.
‘‘ For people who need seven seats we also have the Viano and Valente vans. They are both five-star-safety vehicles.
‘‘ So we actually have quite a few seven-seaters. People have the luxury of choice, and the choice of luxury.’’
Moving end: The R-Class gives way to the sevenseater E-Class