My, that looks a bit of a beast!
You're not wrong there. Mercedes new R63 AMG, which tops Mercedes' new range of six-seat R-models, is just what you'd expect it to be. Vast, fast, luxurious and with enough of a dynamic sting in its tail to fool you into thinking it's a wieldy sporting saloon rather than a 2375kg chunk of all-wheel-drive MPV. When it arrives here in September, in long-wheel-base guise only, it will cost a whopping £74,115.
It gets the same monster engine as other fast new AMG models, I presume?
Correct. Beneath the R63's swooping bonnet sits the all-alloy 6208cc 32valve naturally aspirated V8 that we’ve already just seen in the CLS. It's hooked up to Mercedes' 7G-Tronic transmission, driving both axles through the same full-time all-wheel-drive system that underpins the M-class. And it's one hell of a rev-happy and gutsy engine, punching out 503bhp at 6800rpm and 464lb ft of twist action at 5200rpm. Enough bicep to haul the huge and heavy R63 to 60mph in 5.1seconds and on to an effortless (limited) 155mph. Ask the chaps at AMG to remove the limiter and it will touch 185mph.
Not a vehicle to be found in the Green Peace office car park then?
Not in a million years. On the combined cycle the R63 will return 17.3mpg. Over a day of driving that combined stop-start town traffic, fast motorway work and relaxed A-road cruising, CAR Online achieved an average of 14mpg, which means filling the 17.6gallon tank every 250miles. And although Mercedes has yet to reveal CO2 figures, expect those four snarling exhaust pipes to each chuck out over a kilogramme of CO2 every mile.
You mentioned the word dynamic. Surely you jest?
Well, no not really. Despite its corpulence and girth, the R63 can be chucked around in a thoroughly entertaining manner. With direct steering, taut body control, all-paw traction and huge grip from those 275/45 ZR21 profile tyres, the R63 tackles corners with a real glint in its eye. But it's as a high-speed luxury cruiser where the R63 truly excels. It will sit at a calm and cosseting 120mph with disdainful ease with plenty of grunt in reserve to dispatch slower traffic.
It really looks the part, too...
Yes, even the most stubborn of middle-lane drivers will scarper when the R63 hoves into view. A kerb-kissing body kit, huge 21inch alloys and piercing Xenons all do their out-my-way-small-people trick. Oh, and it looks magnificent in black, giving it an air of real menace.
All good for the well-heeled driver, but how do the passengers fare?
The R63's cabin is fabulously plush, as you'd expect, and build quality seems to be on the way back to the vault-like quality last seen in the mid '80s. Even on the enormous wheels and rubberband tyres, the AMG-tweaked suspension still provides a comfortable and well-damped quality. And because the R63 is available only with the stretched wheelbase, there's enough room for six (although a standard R is a bit cramped in the very back row). But – and here's where the R-class' interior designers should hang their heads – unless you fold the last row of seats flat, there's not much luggage space at all. Which makes the R63 very good at four plus suitcases or six plus toothbrushes.
It would be easy to sneer at the R63. It's bank-bustingly expensive to buy, fuel economy is catastrophic, its green credentials are abysmal and its packaging is far from ground-breaking. But – and didn't you just know there was a but coming – there's something irresistibly desirable about this big Merc. It has, I think all the attributes that a proper Mercedes should have – poise, presence and power. Now, where's my lottery ticket?