Mercedes-Benz expected big things of the R-Class, promising that it would provide “a wholly new motoring experience” as it attempted to combine saloon stylishness, estate practicality and 4×4 ruggedness.

This proved too high a bar for it to clear, but what it could do was act as a private jet for the road, with its luxurious accommodation for six or seven people, while standard four-wheel drive and a long-wheelbase option won it valuable utility marks.

Its unique design and versatility meant that it had few direct rivals to compete with, and its road-oriented performance made it an attractive proposition over the more cumbersome SUVs of the early 2010s.

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The R280 (later renamed the R300) and R320 (later the R350) CDI diesel models were equipped with two differently tuned versions of the same 3.0-litre V6, producing 190bhp and 265bhp respectively. The R350 petrol featured a 272bhp 3.0-litre V6, while the top-of-the-range, AMG-fettled R500 offered sports car performance, being capable of 0-62mph in just 6.9sec thanks to a 306bhp 5.0-litre V8.

All models were offered with Mercedes’ appropriately silky seven-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox. Unlike with some people carriers, the R-Class’s third-row seats are able to accommodate adults. And to ensure that they don’t feel relegated to the back, tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth and heated seats emulate the premium ambience of the front. Each rear seat has its own cupholder, too: now, that’s pure glamour.

The R-Class isn’t all champagne and caviar, however: it also has one of the biggest boots you will find in anything short of a Luton van, with short-wheelbase models built after 2009 offering 869 litres of space, increasing to a staggering 1048 litres if you opt for a long-wheelbase one.

This is, then, despite its objective appeal, quite a confused car, which is perhaps why prices have dipped of late, meaning you can pick up an entry-level R320 for as little as £3500.

Long-wheelbase models naturally command a premium. We found an R320L CDI with 99,000 miles on the clock advertised for £5999.