From £43,330
A refined and spacious alternative to the 4x4-style SUV. But the diesel engine might be a better buy than the base petrol model.

What is it?

The cheapest R-class the money can currently buy. This is the six cylinder petrol version, fitted with Mercis sweet, free-revving 272bhp V6, allied to an equally silky seven-speed auto 'box. Like the rest of the R-class range it aims to meld SUV with large estate. Based on the M-class, it's got permanent four-wheel drive and six seats, but a lower-slung roofline.

What's it like?

It shares plenty of characteristics with other Rs we've driven. More stable and assured than most SUVs but with plenty of wet road and muddy track traction. It's refined and spacious too,­ though with all the seats in pace the boot is quite literally a waste of space. Our test car had a few unwelcome trim rattles too,­ though we haven't heard them in other models.

The problem is that although the engine is good this is a heavy beast - anyone sensible would still be looking towards the equally excellent diesel for its torque and economy benefits.

Should I buy one?

If you¹re in the market for an SUV the R's worth a look, but make sure you can live with some of the accommodation problems it suffers from,­ especially if you've got plenty of family to kart around. But we'd still be looking at the R 320 CDi version. Or even the R 500 V8 if you've got deeper pockets.

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