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Is the R-Class MPV a forgotten child or was it just another Mercedes-Benz fail?

2020-02-22 06:00

Robin Classen


Image: Netcarshow.com

A, B, C, E, G, S, V… and for a short two years, X. No, it's not some code for anything, but merely an alphabetic construct of Mercedes-Benz models.

These models are all favourites, but there is one that not many people might not even have known existed - unless you might find yourself in China any time soon.

Just like Volkswagen and Honda, Mercedes-Benz has its 'R' variant, the R-Class, which is currently still in production for the Chinese market. Upon first glance, you are caught in two minds, mostly because of its size, and looks.

READ | It's finally happened: The Mercedes X-Class bakkie production to come to an end

Is it a minivan or an MPV? Minivans usually have a sliding door, whereas the R-Class has four/five doors – in essence, making it an MPV. It measures in at a lengthy 4922mm; only the GLS at 5207mm is longer. In SA, it used to slot between the now-defunct ML and current GL model in Merc’s model line-up.

Image: Netcarshow.com

It is not a pretty car to look at, so the chances that you saw one and mistook it for an older-generation A-Class is pretty good. Back in 2005, when the R-Class first made its debut, Mercedes-Benz wasn’t known for making the visually attractive cars they make now, at least not to such an extent. But at the time, the R-Class seemed to make sense to other consumer demographics where people took a liking to it.

A V8 monster

Weighing over 2000kg, it needed to have the necessary pulling power - which is why all models either made use of V6 or V8 engines with power ranging from 155kW to the cream of the crop 6.2-litre V8 engine. This beast kicked out 375kW and 630Nm. The R 63 was a complete failure, and within a year, it was yanked off the production line due to poor sales.


                                                             Image: Netcarshow.com

Seeing an R-Class in the flesh is pretty much like finding chicken’s teeth. If you do see one, it's most likely being used as a hearse at a funeral parlour business thanks to the plethora of space on offer. Perhaps surprising is the fact that somewhere out there, you might come across a used car dealerships which could possibly have one on their showroom floors.

The R-Class was perhaps ahead of its time here in SA when it launched here 12 years ago in 2008. And now, the age of gas-guzzling performance sedans and SUVs are well and truly over because your puny 1.0-litre turbo engine can do the job just as capably - and still come with loads of space.

First available as only a six-seater, it now comes as a seven-seater vehicle. There is a big demand for it in China, which is why Mercedes-Benz still has its MPV roots stuck in East Asia. Other than that side of the world, it is pretty much a forgotten child in the eyes of many.

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Read more on:    mercedes-benz  |  robin classen  |  mpv

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