Mercedes B-Class review
The Mercedes B-Class is a premium compact MPV that majors in quality and comfort as well as space
Its classy Mercedes CLS-inspired exterior isn’t the only thing setting it apart from the first generation though. Luxury interiors, hi-tech equipment, extra space and an efficient engine range make the Mercedes B-Class a genuine contender in this competitive market.
The B-Class range kicks off with the 1.6-litre B180 petrol model and above that sits the 2.0-litre B220, which comes with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive as standard. The diesel B-Class range opens with the 1.5-litre B180 CDI, while above that sit the 1.8-litre B200 CDI and the 2.1-litre B220 CDI. Trim level wise, buyers pick from SE or Sport.
If the rumored Mercedes B45 AMG goes into production, expect four-wheel drive and a 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine taken from the Mercedes A45. The engine produces 350bhp and 450Nm of torque, enough to make one rapid MPV. An electric Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive is expected to go on sale this year.
Our choice: B180 CDI SE
It’s obvious that the new Mercedes B-Class is more attractive on the eye than the previous car. A lower, wider stance grants it more presence on the road and a huge three-pointed star compliments the domineering two-bar grille. Two LED running lights complete the look of one of the most stylish front ends in the MPV segment. Entry-level SE models get 16-inch alloys, whilst Sport versions get 18-inch alloys and bi-xenon headlights. It’s definitely more attractive than non-premium rivals like the Renault Scenic but that desirability is reflected in the price.
Premium hatch rivals like Mercedes’ own A-Class, the BMW 1 Series and Audi’s A3 can’t match the B-Class for space but have the edge on sporty looks.
Inside, Mercedes SLS-style metal air vents decorate the sweeping dashboard and a large colour display mounted above the centre console opens access to various multimedia functions. Air-con, ambient lighting and Active Park Assist are fitted on entry-level SE models. Sport trims go one up with privacy glass and a reversing camera.
The B-Class’ lower centre of gravity and supple four-link suspension set-up creates a comfier, more dynamic ride than you’ll find on most MPVs.
The suspension stiffens on the Mercedes B-Class Sport model and, although there’s plenty of grip, the bigger wheels, run flat tyres and low springs make driving over rough surfaces uncomfortable.
Sport trim models are also equipped with a Direct Steer set-up, which improves responsiveness and feedback. It’s a little over-eager constant corrections are needed when steering mid-corner.
A range of petrols and diesels are available. The smooth 1.6-litre petrol comes in 120bhp form here but is sluggish at low revs. Above that sits the B220 4MATIC petrol engine, which offers fully variable torque distribution and optimum traction on all road surfaces.
The B180 CDI or B200 CDI diesel engines are our picks. Available with outputs of 107bhp or 134bhp respectively, these offer more torque and better throttle response than their petrol counterparts. Six-speed manuals come standard but the optional seven-speed automatics are more seamless. The range-topping B220 CDI is smooth and quick bit you pay for the privilege.
The Mercedes B-Class is also available in ECO form with various efficiency-boosting tweaks. The B 180 CDI ECO model comes with an aerodynamic grille, underbody paneling, lower suspension and longer ratios for the six-speed manual ‘box.
As you’d expect, the B-Class is a very safe car. It scored a full five-star Euro NCAP rating back in 2011, with 97 per cent for adult occupant protection and 86 per cent for safety assist.
Each Mercedes B-Class comes fitted with the Collision Prevention Assist System, which warns you if you’re approaching the car in front too quickly and pre-loads the brakes. ESP and full airbags are standard, but the incredibly safety conscious can choose optional Lane Keeping Assist system and blind spot monitoring as well.
Mercedes performs consistently well in our Driver Power customer satisfaction surveys and it finished fifth as the Best Manufacturer in our 2013 results. Mercedes finished in the top three for Best compact executive (Mercedes C-Class), executive (Mercedes E-Class) and sports cars (Mercedes C-Class Sports Coupe). The Mercedes B-Class didn’t quite make it into the survey however.
It’s worth considering that some of the Mercedes B-Class’ parts are taken from other models. For example, the Mercedes B-Class’ 1.8-litre diesel engine is a modified version of the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class’ unit so it’s tried and tested.
The new Mercedes B-Class is generally more spacious than its predecessor and manages to offer more headroom despite being 50mm shorter. Generous seat and steering wheel adjustment makes the driver’s seat comfy and the raised driving position offers great visibility.
The 486-litre boot eclipses the Ford C-MAX’s 471-litres. Get the expensive Easy Vario Package and the 60/40-split rear bench slides forwards and backwards by up to 140mm to create a 666-litre luggage capacity.
With the rear seats folded, the Mercedes B-Class’ 1545-litre load bay is beaten by the Ford C-Max’s 1,723-litre space. The Easy Vario Package also comes with a centre rear armrest, ski hatch and false boot floor.
Each Mercedes B-Class has fuel-saving stop-start technology as standard. The B180 petrol models return 47.9mpg and emit 137g/km of CO2.
Predictably, the diesels are the most efficient. The B220 CDI emits just 120g/km but more efficient is the B200 CDI that does 64.2mpg and emits 115g/km of CO2. The B180 CDI ECO SE is the most economical diesel, emitting an impressive 98g/km and doing 74.3mpg.
As with all premium models, the Mercedes B-Class has a higher list price than its rivals but this is offset somewhat by strong residuals of 48.4 per cent. Expect parts and servicing to cost above average as well.