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Earth mover arrives

autos Updated: Jun 11, 2011 01:40 IST
Ouseph Chacko
Ouseph Chacko
Hindustan Times
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The face-lifted R-class has a number of design elements that take advantage of Mercedes' latest lineage. New headlamps, grille, bonnet and bumpers adorn this behemoth that bears a semblance to a sleek, low-slung van. At 5.1 metres, this car weighs in at a mammoth 2,230 kg, but doesn't have the rigidity you would expect from a Mercedes of this calibre.

Step inside the low-slung cabin, and snug seats equipped with electric adjustments greet you. The Mercedes COMAND system controls just the audio through a relatively small screen. The system is rather complicated to navigate, which is a disappointing for a car that costs over Rs 50 lakh. Fit and finish is top-notch and the high point is the massive size of the middle row, offering acres of legroom. Sadly, thigh support isn't particularly great.

The optional Rs 1.4 lakh rear seat entertainment pack has tiny screens; a gripe that won't go down well with customers demanding a comfortable rear-seat car that is chauffeur-driven. The third row of seats coughs up a surprise with its generous space — full-grown adults can be seated comfortably over moderate distances. Fold the seats down and the cavernous space will gobble up most of what you throw its way.

Equipment includes electric mirrors, seat and steering adjustments, a sunroof and a nice audio system — but nothing extra. Mercedes' familiar 3,498 cc, 272 bhp petrol V6, which also does duty in the E-class and S-class, finds its way in here. But it feels rather sedate in general, and is only a tad lively when you mash the pedal at lower revs because most of the torque is made in that range. Top speed of 230 kph means this car is no slouch; and the R-class pulls to its redline without complaint, staying incredibly smooth and making a sporty snarl along the way.

What's surprising is that Mercedes hasn't fit the car with a reverse camera, or even a convex mirror on the left door. City driving isn't comfortable, but it is at steady cruising speeds where the luxury MPV finds itself most at home. The R-class manages 5.4 kpl in the city and 8.7 kpl on the highway.