When Mercedes plays dice: The R Class disasterShrawan January 24, 2008
The infamous R-class from the Mercedes stable received a massive blow last week when a top Mercedes official admitted that the car didn’t live up to their original plan. But Mercedes didn’t spend much time mourning and is planning a replacement already, with the hope of topping the popularity charts. Low car sales would probably motivate the new R-class to a be more aggressive wagon and quite different from the current one. The only question remaining is whether it would be able to drive its way into the hearts and garages of customers especially with tough competition coming from BMW X6 crossover.
I never liked the R Class. I think the front is plain ugly. No other word for it. I’m not one bit surprised that it sold poorly. What does surprise me is that BMW can sell far uglier models and turn them into raging successes. BMW have released cars that I stand there and cannot believe they released something that ugly, and then it sells like crazy. Particularly the 1 series.
I think the disappointing sales numbers are merely the result of consumers misunderstanding on what the car actually is. I read so many reviews where they talked about the R-Class not competing against anyone, as it wasn’t an SUV nor a Mini-Van. I guess the car was confused of what it was (reminds me of an episode on South Park :)) I think it was intended to be a luxurious mini-van; the only problem is that it didn’t act as a mini-van, as it didn’t have sliding door or other features that you find in a tipical “kids-mover”. If they want to try it again, they should just copy the Town & Country, but make it more luxurious and “Mercedes like” – problem solved.
sometimes the unexpected happens…
This is a great car in many ways. The front is NOT abominably ugly and the interior is like no other. But these things are relative to the beholder anyway. The important things to note of this automobile are its usefulness and its performance.
This is a big heavy vehicles and while it performs just fine with the 6 cylinder, the 8-cylinder diesel is the way to go, especially because of gas mileage which for a vehicle this size isn’t that bad at 20+ per gallon.
While the R-Class does theoretically seat 7, 3 of those 7 are crammed in the back. The ideal use for this vehicle is as a corporate taxi, one where clients and partners can be picked up at the aeroport in style, class, luxury, and comfort. Fold those rear seats down and you can fit 4 large persons and all their luggage just fine.
Another note, this vehicle was originally released as a “Sports Tourer” which I think was the perfect identity for it and think MB made a mistake dumping that identity. Take this puppy up into the mountain highways and you have the equivalent of a first-class Japanese or European speed train and the comfort of a first class jet.
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