Mercedes R63

This six-seater people carrier may be expensive, but it boasts enough power to be worth it

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The flagship R-Class occupies a niche within a niche, but the results are impressive. The huge price and its thirst for unleaded make it an extravagant choice, but if you must have room for six and supercar performance, the R63 is unrivalled. You could buy a proper sports car and a conventional MPV for the same price, though!

With sales of full-sized people carriers in freefall at the moment, you have to admire any brand that launches a niche luxury model - especially when it then shoehorns one of its most potent engines under the bonnet!

That's exactly what Mercedes has done with the R-Class AMG. Its famous tuning division has worked its magic on the big six-seater by fitting the 510bhp 6.2-litre engine from the CLS.

Combined with four-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox, it endows the new R63 with a massive turn of pace. The dash from 0-62mph takes a mere 5.1 seconds, and acceleration doesn't let up. Even on the motorway, where the Merc displays excellent refinement, there is always power in reserve should you need it. Turn towards more twisty roads, and it continues to impress.

Any tall vehicle measuring 5.1 metres long clearly isn't going to offer hot hatch levels of agility, but the AMG feels much smaller than its size suggests. It sounds the part, too, thanks to its bellowing V8 soundtrack.

Admittedly, there's plenty of body roll in the air-suspension's supple Comfort setting, but the alternative Sport mode hampers ride quality.

Negatives include fuel economy of 17.3mpg and the rear seats, which are not ideally suited to tall adults. The negative reaction of other road users to our black test car, complete with menacing privacy glass, is another consideration.

However, the R63 is a hugely capable machine combining effort- less pace and comfort. Buyers with deep pockets will soon forgive the high price and poor fuel economy.

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