An awkward launch and sales volumes far below expectations led many to believe the unusual Mercedes-Benz R-Class would not be long for this world. However, new reports from Autocar suggest the large people mover may be spared for another three years, thanks largely in part to its popularity in China, of all places.
According to Autocar, Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche has confirmed the Mercedes-Benz R-Class will continue in its current guise through 2015, at the very least. Why? A Mercedes-Benz insider told the publication the van/SUV/crossover is apparently a hit in China -- not surprising, considering the immense legroom afforded to passengers in the second row, along with the posh interior, seems in keeping with what luxury car buyers desire in that market.
The Mercedes-Benz R-Class first launched in 2006, but the crossover was restyled and refreshed for the 2011 model year. In the U.S., the R-Class is available in two forms: the R350 makes use of a direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 that's rated at 302 hp and 273-lb-ft of torque. The R350 Bluetec makes use of a stingy 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6, which cranks out 210 hp and a solid 400 lb-ft of torque. Both models make use of a seven-speed automatic transmission, and are offered only in all-wheel-drive forms.
Autocar suggests there isn't necessarily a replacement for the Mercedes-Benz R-Class in the cards, but 2015 will likely bring a number of new Mercedes-Benz SUV offerings, including a facelifted GLK, a new GL-Class, and a heavily revised version of the G-Class expected to launch around that time. Mercedes-Benz’s coupe-styled BMW X6 fighter, the MLC, is also set to begin production in 2015, built at the German automaker’s plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.