According to Mercedes, the R-Class is no less than “a wholly new motoring experience”.

In this business we are used to car manufacturers making lofty and usually unsustainable claims for their products, of which this must surely be one of the boldest yet. Question is, can the R-Class match the hype?

The concept is simple enough. Based on the same platform as the Mercedes ML and GL 4x4s the R-class aims to package the space of an MPV, the all-wheel-drive reassurance of a 4x4, the practicality of an estate and the class of a saloon all under the same extremely long roof.

If ever there was a Jack-of-all-trades charter, this sounds like it, but in the event, this is not how it transpires.

Top 5 Large MPVs

  • A range-topping 237bhp Ecoboost engine gives the S-Max hot-hatch levels of performance

    Ford S-Max

    1
  • Seven-seater undercuts VW twin, but should other rivals worry?

    Seat Alhambra

    2
  • This Volkswagen MPV will not be the choice of the committed driver

    Volkswagen Sharan

    3
  • Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

    4
  • Kia Carens
    Carens replaces the previous model and the Sedona in Kia's range

    Kia Carens

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    3 March 2015
    Sharper handling, more refined and better-looking. Still a bit rough around the edges, mind, but now good enough to be a class contender
  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?