One of Mercedes’ barmier ideas, the R63 L AMG was a 510bhp, four-wheel drive MPV, estate and saloon rolled into one with a top speed electronically limited to 155mph and a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.6sec. It cost £74,115 and slurped unleaded at the rate of 17mpg.
They rarely come up for sale in the UK (few found homes here), but look across the pond to the US, the supersized R-Class’s natural home, and there are plenty at around $40,000 (£31,000) plus, if you fancy importing one, shipping and taxes on top.
Not that you need, or should, go to that trouble because you may just find its saner alternative, the R500, buried deep in the UK’s sales ads, as we have. The 2006-registered car has done 105,000 miles and is up for £4490. Its 5.0-litre V8 produces 302bhp, cracks 0-62mph in 7.0sec and ‘sips’ fuel at the rate of 20mpg.
But why prattle on about these utterly irrelevant versions? Because as an unsexy beast, the R-Class could use a bit of excitement. It’s just a monster estate, after all. Or is it?
In fact, it’s also a properly spacious six-seat people-carrier (there were five and seven-seat configurations, too) with individual seats for all. Four-wheel drive and air suspension were optional and a seven-speed automatic gearbox was standard.
It was launched in 2006 in standard and long-wheelbase (almost a foot longer) forms, with power from a couple of petrol engines, including the aforementioned 5.0-litre V8, and, more pertinently, a 3.0-litre V6 diesel producing 221bhp and badged 320 CDI. This engine dominates the classifieds but, like the diesel motors that followed it, it has its problems, as we outline below.