Mercedes Benz R-class in India Test Drive

We had earlier reported about the Mercedes Benz R class coming to India and its choice of engines and plethora. Well, I finally happened to lay my hands on a Mercedes Benz R-class. Using my connection at the Mercedes Benz PR agency, I managed to wrangle out a Mercedes Benz R-class with the promise that I would return it within 1.5 hours. So only a test drive, huh? Well, beggars cannot be choosers and hence sulkingly, I agreed to it. The car which came to our office 2 days later was a white specimen. So lets cut to the chase and get going with the new Mercedes Benz R-class in India.

Looks

Typical MPV looks with a flair attached to them. It has got triple XL dimensions but then the M-class styling cues adorably mask these. The front grille would make one think that this car is the AMG version of any regular Mercedes car. Actually, the gathering outside the office was second only to when the Toyota Fortuner had first come in. The 3215 mm of wheelbase is absurdly long and it seems more like a van rather than a proper MPV. The fog lamps are replaced by LED lights. As we have seen recently, the Mercedes logo now sits on the grille rather than the bonnet. I prefer the latter though. The bulging wheel arches are complemented by the 18 inch wheels. Towards the rear, profile actually slopes like a coupe and blends into a tastefully done tail. The twin tail pipes have been shared with the new Mercedes Benz S-class. The leaf shaped tail lamps aren’t split by the tail gate and this is a good thing.

Interiors

This is a genuine 7 seater wherein even a 6 footer would also be comfortable in the last row of forward facing seats. Massive space is something which a potential buyer can expect out of this car. Infact, the space is even more than a long wheel base Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The width of this car also easily overshadows that of  most of the cars on Indian roads. Comfort and passenger space are two things that were kept in mind while designing this car. Mercedes Benz as a company are slowly returning to their high quality standards and this can be amply described with the interiors of the Mercedes Benz R-class in India. The mud colored steering wheel has audio controls just like the remote control of a TV. Amongst the creature comforts, there are so many like the ProLogic 7 Harman Kardon system, flat TV screens for rear passengers with wired head sets, 6 zone automatic climate control and many others. The seats recline for comfort and are high on the adjustability factor. On top of this, there is enough boot space to swallow three big suitcases with the third row of seats intact.

Handling and ride quality

The Mercedes Benz R-class in India boasts of all wheel drive. It has got an air suspension and this means that it has one of the best ride qualities to its name. I didn’t test it with a full load of passengers but then most of our office staffers volunteered to sit in this 3 pointed star offering. The last row of seats were empty as the car arrived quite late in the evening. Even with the front two rows occupied, the MPV didn’t even  think twice before going into a pothole. However the air suspension does have its own faults, the ultra low speed ride quality been one of them. This is just a minor gremlin and not an irritating one. What is not good however is the handling. It does handle like a leviathan. The air suspension cannot hide its 2.2 tonne weight and this is amply demonstrated while going around corners. It would go smoothly but not at speeds. The all wheel drive does help in maintaining stability at all speeds but that is it.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The Mercedes Benz R-class in India comes with a single engine option. It is offered with a 3.5 liter V6 petrol engine which churns out 272 Bhp of peak power and 350 Nm of torque. It is mated with a 7 speed automatic transmission. The transmission is slick however I personally think that 272 Bhp for a 2.2 tonner wouldn’t be good enough but then Mercedes are proving me wrong. This car races from 0-100 kmph in only 9 seconds flat. Claimed top speed is 230 kmph. What I can vouch for however is that the engine is super silent even at triple digit speeds. It is silky smooth as we expect Mercedes motors to be. Fuel efficiency can only be guessed to be 7 kmpl in city and 11 kmpl on the highway. Braking is achieved via 4 wheel disc brakes and a variety of electronic nannies. There are also many safety gadgets including 8 airbags, collision warning, radar navigated distance maintainer and the mandatory seat belts.

Verdict

The Mercedes Benz R-class in India is available only in one fully loaded variant. It is one of the most comfortable 4 wheeled behemoth that I have ever sat in. It gets all the gizmos that one can play with and then some more. It has got the best interiors for any MPV or estate vehicle for that matter. It has got the most up market image amongst any MPV in India as well. But then remove the rose tinted glasses and start looking at the car carefully. Is it a cheap buy? With the Mercedes Benz R-class price in India at Rs 65.27 lakhs (ex-show room, Mumbai), it certainly isn’t. Moreover, it would take lots of space to even park. Factor in the running costs of petrol and the expected low mileage, then you have a losing proposition. But then the car isn’t aimed for those thinking of saving money and keeping it for their next generations. It is rather aimed at those looking to arrive in style and travel in first class luxury with every ready loose purse strings.

Technical specifications of the Mercedes Benz R-class in India

Engine details: 3498 V6 petrol
Peak power: 272 Bhp @ 6000 rpm
Peak torque: 350 @ 2400 – 5000 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.7:1
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s): Under 9 seconds
Top speed (km/h): 230 estimated
Fuel and consumption overall: 9 kmpl estimated
Tank capacity/with reserve (l): 80/13
Cd value: 0.32
Transmission: 7G-TRONIC
Front tyres/wheels: 255/55 R 18
Rear tyres/wheels: 255/55 R 18
Kerb weight: 2230 kgs
Boot capacity: 633 liters
Turning circle: 12.6  meters

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