Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mercedes' Crossover Comfort

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Mercedes' Crossover Comfort

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Keenan

IF you want a car that is the dictionary definition of 'comfort zone' then look no further than the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.

It is a quality crossover - combining the talents of a luxury sports tourer with the practicality of a seven-seat SUV - that cossets driver and passengers as if they were fine china.

The R300 entrusted to my care was the short wheelbase version - but don't be fooled by the 'short' description as it still offers a cavernous cargo space of 1,950 litres. Choose the larger alternative - the long wheelbase R350 model - and there's room to set up a small village with a luggage capacity of 2,385 litres.

With the rearmost seats in place though the amount of room is reduced and the R-Class reverts to more of a people carrier role.

The driving position offers a good view of the road and both front seats have full electric adjustment so its easy to find a position that suits.

The 3.0-litre diesel BlueEFFICIENCY R300 model isn't cheap, with a price-tag just north of pounds 41,000, but for that you do get a lot of know-how.

That can be seen from the 'efficiency' part of the car's moniker, as the R300 achieves an average fuel economy figure of about 37mpg - pretty impressive when you consider both its size and power.

The engine produces 190bhp and can make 62mph from a standing start in a shade under 10 seconds -- amazing power and remarkable fuel consumption when you consider that the R300 weighs in at 2.3 tons and is 17ft long.

The R-Class is fitted with a seven-speed automatic gearbox operated via a stalk on the right hand side of the steering wheel, which is unusual but doesn't take long to get used to.

The R300 is set up as a luxury cruiser - sharing its underpinnings with the M-Class and GL off-road models which are also built at the Mercedes works in Alabama - and there is definitely American feel to the way it drives and looks. …

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