New look for an aging model
By Nauman Farooq
Facelifts are big in Hollywood. Many in the industry believe that a well executed nip and tuck can prolong ones career by a few years. Nowadays, even car companies are going that route.
Rather than come up with an all-new vehicle, car companies are doing mild styling tweaks to keep their aging models looking fresh. These facelifts are becoming more and more popular since most car companies have been a bit strapped for cash and this is an easy way to get a few more years out of an old product.
Mercedes-Benz is the latest company to jump on the facelift train with their 2011 R-class.
The R-class originally was launched back in 2006, and is as close to a luxury minivan as you can get. While it offered great practicality and impressive performance, its sales have been anything but stellar. It was reported a few years back that even Mercedes-Benz executives thought this model was a mistake. One might have expected Mercedes-Benz would kill the model the first opportunity it got, but no. At the 2010 New York International Auto Show, a newish R-class made its World debut..
The new model, which will be on sale this summer, can most easily be recognized by its new nose, which ties it to its C-class sibling. While it also features new tail lights, its profile remains pretty much identical to its outgoing model.
Inside, hardly anything has been changed at all. However, its six passengers (optional seven-seat configuration also available) will be happy to know that it now has eight airbags to protect them in case of a crash. The front seats also feature NECK-PRO active head restraints which can minimize injury in those nasty tail-end accidents.
The biggest change has got to be with its drivetrain, or the lack of options available for it now. While the original R-class was offered with diesel and petrol engine options, including an AMG version, the new R-class will only be available inNorth America with two engines, atleast for the time being.
The R350 4MATIC features a normally aspirated, 3.5-liter, V6 which produces 268 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque. The R350 BlueTEC 4MATIC features a 3.0-liter, turbo diesel V6 which produces 210 hp and a truly phenomenal 400 lb/ft or torque. Both models send power to all-wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Each would sprint from 0-100 km/h in about 8.2 seconds and top out at 210 km/h. Pretty impressive for a minivan.
Prices for the new R-class has not been announced yet, but expect them to be similar to the 2010 model, which starts at around $55,000.