The New York International Auto Show is to provide the stage for another world premiere from Mercedes Benz, 51 years after hosting the unveiling of the legendary SL gullwing. Now it is the turn of the new Mercedes Benz R Class to make its world debut at the traditional show.
The unique vehicle concept at the heart of the Mercedes model founds a new and highly promising "Sports Tourer" market segment. "Our developers had no role model to follow when they created this totally new vehicle. But they did have a guiding principle: dynamic space", says Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management DaimlerChrysler AG, responsible for Research and Technology and Development within the Mercedes Car Group.
The R Class Grand Sports Tourer takes the acknowledged strengths of established vehicle categories, such as sporty Saloon, Estate, MPV and SUV, and fuses them to create a new car with a character all of its own. It caters to the needs of modern minded people looking for a car that offers tremendous versatility combined with athletic performance. Quite apart from boasting ample spaciousness, exemplary standards of safety and impeccable comfort for up to six passengers, the new R Class also enthrals with its beguiling styling, prestigious flair and, last but by no means least, its dynamism out on the road.
"The new R Class is 'inspired by and built in America' and is therefore very much at home in the U.S. market", says Dr Thomas Weber. "Here we expect to achieve some 60 percent of our unit sales after the market launch in autumn 2005." Deliveries to customers in Europe will begin in early 2006.
According to Dr Weber, it takes three Ds to sum up the unique character of the R Class: Dimensions, Design and Dynamism. "Dimension refers to the synthesis of exceptional spaciousness, premium comfort and high variability. The design reflects power, confidence and individuality. And the R Class is as dynamic as it looks – thanks to powerful engines, a seven-speed automatic transmission and permanent all wheel drive."
Measuring 5157 millimetres from nose to tail, the body of the new Mercedes Benz R Class is akin to a luxury saloon in size but is considerably more spacious inside. There are 920 millimetres between the first and second rows of seats. Moreover, the second-row seats can be adjusted individually fore and aft, thereby increasing the seat spacing to as much as 990 millimetres. The maximum distance between the second and third rows of seats (depending on seat position) is 920 millimetres.
Families who are keen on sports and recreational activities and who are looking for a versatile car that can adapt to all manner of transportation tasks quickly and easily are also catered for by the new R Class as only Mercedes knows how: the four seats in the rear fold flat individually, allowing the load capacity to be expanded to as much as 2057 litres (VDA measuring method), a figure which clearly eclipses the load space offered by estate cars. Loading and unloading is particularly straightforward, courtesy of the level load floor measuring over 2.20 metres in length and the generously proportioned EASY PACK tailgate, which is available with remote-control opening and closing as an optional convenience enhancing feature.
Engine outputs range from 165 kW/224 hp up to 225 kW/306 hp, clearly signalling just what the new R Class is capable of in terms of dynamic performance and motoring enjoyment. The powerful V8 gasoline engine under the bonnet of the R 500 propels it from standstill to 100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 240 km/h (provisional figures). Also to be found in the engine line up (from the beginning of 2006) is a new six cylinder power unit with third-generation common rail, direct injection technology. The V6 engine places its class beating peak torque of 510 Newton metres on tap from as low down as 1600 rpm. The fuel consumption figures returned by the R 320 CDI are no less astounding: 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres (combined consumption).
A seven speed automatic transmission, permanent all wheel drive, the electronically controlled 4ETS traction system and ESP® team up to offer peerless driving safety. These systems all make up part of the standard specification of the new R-Class, as does air suspension at the rear axle.
In addition, some of the very latest Mercedes safety innovations are available as optional extras: PRE SAFE®, the multi-award-winning anticipatory protection system, detects critical handling situations and immediately springs into action to prepare occupants and vehicle alike for an imminent collision. Precautions include pulling the driver's and front passenger's seat belts taut, adjusting the front passenger seat to the optimum position and automatically closing the sliding sunroof. Another Mercedes first for improving standards of occupant safety still further is the NECK PRO crash-responsive head restraints (optional).