Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - R-class - R320 CDI 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Looks, diesel’s low-speed torque, fuel economy, lavish six-seater accommodation, build quality
Room for improvement
Size may be daunting for some, space-saver spare, limited luggage space with rear seats up

21 Jun 2006

MERCEDES-BENZ has been just a little surprised by the number of folk that have lined up to drive away in its new R-class.

Sales are well above initial expectations and none of the doubts that have dampened United States sales are being experienced here.

It seems many Australians love the idea of an all-wheel drive wagon that seats six people in superb comfort yet offers all-wheel drive and a commodious cabin.

Those looking at the badge and seeking a conventional wagon can also still get into an E-class wagon but the R-class has size on its side.

Of the three models – R350 V6, R320 CDI V6 and R500 V8 – the turbo-diesel is the pick of the bunch.

With around 2.2 tonnes to haul, the turbo-diesel - mated to the silky seven-speed auto - is just the engine to give the R-class some athletic acceleration but does not ignore economy in a day, and age, when the price of fuel is becoming an increasing talking point.

The all-alloy 24-valve R320 CDI engine boasts the very latest in turbo-diesel technology.

The 3.0-litre V6 pumps out 165kW at 3800rpm and 510Nm from 1600rpm, representing something of a performance powerhouse in both everyday and highway driving.

Importantly too, the R-class’s hefty weight is never an impediment to the performance of the turbo-diesel, making the diesel the preferred choice in this car.

The V6 is equipped with the latest-generation common-rail direct fuel-injection technology, meaning the injectors, high-pressure pump and electronic engine management systems work more efficiently. This helps reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

The lack of noise is an interesting aural revelation.

At idle the diesel sounds like a slightly more muscular petrol V6. There’s never any indication that the package is diesel.

Once under way, the R320 CDI impresses with its low-down power and torque and strong highway overtaking response. Quietness is a byword too.

In the cabin, the occupants are blissfully unaware of what’s powering the wagon as it slices through the air.

There’s little wind, road or suspension noise. In typical Mercedes fashion, the cabin is cocooning and all but the most aurally sensitive person would not recognise that the engine is a diesel.

We’d perhaps prefer some more feel in the steering as the R-class exhibits that typical Mercedes numbness through the steering wheel, particularly on the straight-ahead.

But the brakes, ride and handling are all as one would expect from the big German car-maker and the rear parking sensors are a welcome standard inclusion.

Our R320 CDI was equipped with the optional ($3450) Airmatic active damping system, which combines with the semi-active air suspension to add just a little more controllability to the car when push.

With the system the R-class can be hustled through corners in a similar fashion to a much smaller sedan. It provides a degree of responsiveness and precision that is greatly appreciated and belies the car’s overall on-road mass.

As it is, based on the M-class and GL-class SUV platform architecture, the cabin and interior borrow much from this four-wheel drive.

The driving position, commanding view and ergonomics are first-rate, making the R feel much like just a large wagon.

Rear passengers are spoilt for space and comfort, courtesy of the individual seats and all the rear seats fold out of the way if you need extra load space.

The centre console between the second row of seats is a nice touch, but at $1250 seem an expensive option for what amounts to a couple of cupholders and some storage space.

The car boasts a striking, overly large grille with long, horizontal louvres and a steeply sloping bonnet that dominates the front.

In profile the R-class has a very tall roofline that arches from the mudguards right through to the rear. The overall look is pleasing and stylish and the car is reasonably authentic to the original Vision GST concept car upon which it is based, except for the "suicide" rear doors on the concept car.

Mercedes quotes an overall fuel figure of 9.3L/100km for the CDI, which given its size and weight, is impressive. We managed around 9.0L/100km on a mix of city and highway driving and it is clear that once the diesel V6 gets a few more kilometres under its belt economy will be a strong point.

The 80-litre fuel tank will ensure long distances between refills.

For the performance-minded, the R320CDi is no slug. It will also hit 100km/h in 8.7 seconds and sail on to a top speed, where permitted, of 222km/h.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing it may not be, but the R320 CDI certainly is a surprising package.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new R-class

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here