PARIS – Mercedes-Benz provides the public here with the latest look at its upcoming line of cross/utility vehicles, with the Grand Sports Tourer Vision R and the Compact Sports Tourer Vision B.

Both products will be marketed globally beginning in 2006.

While a series of concepts based on the sports tourer theme have been making the rounds at various auto shows since 2002, these vehicles represent the closest to production form yet.

Mecredes defines sport tourers as “multifunctional automobiles” and “a new interpretation” of the traditional station wagon.

Even though the vehicles offer two different wheel-base dimensions, there is generous space in both. As would be expected of Mercedes, luxury appointments abound.

Mercedes Grand Sports Tourer Vision B

The Grand Sports Tourer "Vision R" was presented in its European-spec version at the motor show here. With a wheelbase of 117 ins. (297 cm), the vehicle features a 4+2 passenger configuration. The interior features generous use of fine leather and decorative trim of ash wood and aluminium.

The large Sports Tourer comes equipped with 4-wheel drive, air suspension and a powerful new V-6 diesel engine. Combined with a 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission, the 6-cyl. 218-hp powerplant consumes less than 26 mpg (9 L/100 km) of fuel.

The Compact Sports Tourer "Vision B" (based on the A-Class platform), features a different configuration, with the engine and transmission partly in front of and partly beneath the passenger area.

This setup provides the Vision B with the interior spaciousness of larger sedans and wagons, despite its compact external dimensions.

The Compact Sports Tourer is powered by a new 4-cyl., 140-hp diesel engine, with a highly respectable 221 lbs.-ft. (300 cm) of torque. Other equally impressive attributes are a fuel consumption of less than 39 mpg (6 L/100 km) and exhaust emissions at Euro-4 levels.

With a length of 194 ins. (493 cm), the body is akin to a luxury wagon in size but considerably more spacious in the interior.

The distance between the seats, Mercedes engineers say, measures 34 ins. (86 cm) between the first and second row, with another 31 ins. (78 cm) available between the second and third rows. Headroom is measured at 40 ins. (101 cm) and shoulder room is 59 ins. (151 cm).

In terms of exterior design, both vehicles proudly display muscular shoulders and make extensive use of concave and convex surfaces. The bodies feature a wedge-shape design, which Mercedes says adds to the sporty appeal of the vehicles.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com