The cabin of the R-Class is a masterpiece. It’s a full six-seater: even in the third row there’s room for six-footers, with only elbow space being rather limited. Even access to the Mercedes – the traditional bugbear of all three-row designs – could scarcely be easier.
Up front, the main benefit of the 4x4 platform can be found in the imperious driving position, while visibility is great in all directions apart from right at the rear quarter of the car, where the thick D-pillars block your view. There is stowage space everywhere, including five central cubbyholes between the seats. As an MPV – and unless you need a seventh or eighth seat (in which case you’d likely be looking at the grim Viano) – the R-Class works fantastically.
The dashboard looks impressive and, by using a column shifter for the seven-speed automatic gearbox, innovative. But some of it works less well than you’d hope from such a ground-breaking car. The Comand combined navigation/information/entertainment system is the same that we’ve seen in many Mercs for years, and not the all-new system that has debuted in the new S-Class. It’s too fiddly and complicated and requires too much effort to learn.