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Mercedes-Benz R-Class

Move to the class-y groove

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Mercedes-Benz has just defined an all new luxury peoples' carrier segment with its R-Class . We give you a heads up on what the new car is all about.

Multipurpose vehicles or MPVs as they call them are a pretty popular choice in our part of the world. Offering loads of space and versatility and at the same time being as easy to manoeuvre as any regular car, they are just what a typically large Indian family needs. Mercedes-Benz has realized this and taken things a lot further with the very first luxury people's carrier - the all-new R-Class.

What is the R-Class? Mercedes already has the ML-Class and the GL-Class , but both these vehicles are large SUVs and can prove to be pretty cumbersome around town. So, the company came out with something in between - and the R-Class is a combination of a luxury saloon, MPV and SUV. It is MPV because it has six seats, SUV because it uses permanent four-wheel drive. It also is a luxury saloon because of its friendly dimensions and easy manoeuvrability, not to mention its chic interiors.

At first glance, it looks pretty much like an ultra-sleek station wagon, but on a closer look its SUV-sedan amalgamation starts coming to the fore. While the previous generation car looked a bit quirky, the latest one of the R-Class features a new, self-assured appearance. From the A-pillar forward, the R-Class is new, with a more upright grille, fenders, hood and headlights to better relate to the rest of Mercedes-Benz's SUV lineup. Out back, a bumper with rear diffuser and integrated exhaust outlets, and rear LED tail lamps highlight the changes. The R350 4Matic also rides on fresh wheel designs and sports sleeker rearview side mirrors.

The interiors, while being typically Merc, offer loads of space and versatility. Designed for a relaxed, safe driving environment, the saloon has seven seats as standard in both the normal and long wheelbase versions. The R-Class comes with partially power-adjustable seats for the driver and front passenger as standard. Then there is the luggage compartment, which in standard trim offers a humongous 1,950 litres. The bright, classic interior seems even more spacious when fitted with the optional panoramic glass sunroof and makes use of new materials and colour combinations, which enhance its appeal.

Mercedes-Benz is particularly proud of the fact that the vehicle's third row is actually functional, and it's true that full-grown adults who are less than five-foot-eleven can fit in the way-back seats without suffering a cramped neck or bruised knees. The bottom line is that unlike many other three-row creations out there, the final thrones in the new R-Class are actually good for something other than cruelty towards children.

While Mercedes-Benz technically offers a total of nine variations on the R-Class formula around the world, India gets the R350 4 MATIC petrol version. With 272 PS and 350 Nm of torque, expect this 'family tourer' to hit the ton in under nine seconds and go on to a top speed of 230 kmph. While figures seem quick, we can only verify the claims once we get our hands on the car. The engine drives all four-wheels via M-B's 4Matic system through a 7-speed automatic transmission controlled via a column-mounted Drive-Select shifter and paddles for manual gear operation. Expect diesel variants to follow in the future.

You can also expect the car to be similarly loaded as the new generation E-Class and possess similar top-of-the-line safety features. The R350 4 Matic will be available in CBU trim and is priced at Rs 58.75 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai, which is pretty much at par with the ML range. Deliveries are expected to commence during Diwali. So, if you're looking at the best extracts from a premium MUV, SUV and sedan, the Mercedes-Benz R-Class must surely ring your bell.

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