Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 3 March


Stretched people-carrier meets executive saloon: that was the Mercedes-Benz R-Class of 2006-13. If you wanted a simple estate, there was the E-Class, but the R-Class put passengers first, with six huge seats as standard (seven from 2010), lots of kit and impressive refinement.

Diesel power dominated sales (not surprising, given the 2270kg kerb weight), with the R320 CDi being the most popular version. Standard gear included four-wheel drive, a seven-speed automatic gearbox, braking assistance, climate control and automatic headlights and wipers. Sport added 19in alloys, Alcantara sports seats and aluminium details.

It may put passengers first but, like most MPVs, the R-Class has little room for luggage when all seats are occupied. On the upside, with all the rear seats folded down, there’s 2385 litres of load space to play with.

The big-selling R320 CDi isn’t without its faults, mind you. They include troublesome inlet port swirl flaps, leaks from the centrally located oil cooler (the gaskets can be baked by the engine) and carbon-clogged injectors. What’s more, all versions can suffer broken springs and corrosion around the wheel arches and on the rear subframes.

Our find is a 2008 R320 CDi with an unusually low 52,000 miles and just two previous owners. Its service history is described as full but, in our book, that should mean every major and minor carried out, plus extras such as brake and transmission fluid changes and regassing the air-con. As the R-Class is so heavy, we would also want to be sure the brakes have lots of life in them and things like the anti-roll-bar bushes aren’t knocking.

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The seller says the MOT expires in October, but we would want a fresh one to ensure that the old diesel’s emissions are okay.

Mercedes E300d Estate SE, £7000: If the R-Class is a little intimidating, how about this seven-seat E-Class Estate from 1995, which has been garaged by its one owner from new? W124 wagons can command strong prices; we also saw a 1991 3.0 TE auto with 113,000 miles up for £29,850.



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