It's easy to get carried away when buying a new car. You spend hours poring over the brochures, checking the colour charts and weighing up the engine choices. And then you come to the options list. You think you’ll treat yourself to one or two extras, and before you know it, you’ve ticked almost every box.
That’s what happened to me when I was ordering our new Mercedes B-Class. Choosing the basic car was easy, as the B200 CDI SE has the best blend of performance, comfort and value. At £24,860, it covered all the basics, with a slick seven-speed automatic gearbox, Bluetooth and a USB connection. Yet I knew I had to have the car finished in Polar Silver, which cost an additional £515.
It was worth the outlay, as the B-Class looked great parked in Mercedes Temple Fortune’s north London showroom. Yes, the standard 16-inch wheels look small, but the bright metallic finish highlights the complex array of curves and creases. And my extra expense didn’t end with the optional paint.
Sales assistant Paul Uppal helped guide me around the B-Class’s spacious cabin, which was dripping with desirable additions. First off I selected the classy leather seat covering, which is part of the £1,535 Exclusive package that also adds heated seats, black rooflining and smart wood trim for the dashboard. Another £815 bought electric adjustment and memory functions for the front seats, plus I selected the panoramic glass roof.
I also plumped for the £2,100 sat-nav, in combination with the £690 Harman Kardon surround sound stereo system and the useful £430 DAB digital radio tuner. As the electronic route finder comes with a larger seven-inch colour display screen, it seemed a good idea to splash out on the £305 reversing camera, too.
With two young daughters to carry around, safety is always a priority for me – and the B-Class doesn’t disappoint. Every model gets low-speed collision avoidance kit, ESP and seven airbags as standard. But I added the £785 Lane tracking pack, which includes blindspot monitoring and lane keep assist.
There’s plenty of space in the cabin and a 486-litre boot, but I also chose the £515 Easy Vario Plus Pack, which adds a sliding and split/fold rear bench, plus a centre rear armrest – although a five-seat MPV really should have this system as standard.
The downside? I’d spent £10,830 on options, which took the price to £35,690 – a huge chunk of cash for a family runaround. It’s a good thing the Merc was such a relaxing drive on my way home from the dealer, with the refined 1.8-litre diesel, smooth automatic gearbox and supple ride washing away any financial worries. Still, I’m planning to get my money’s worth over the next year, as the B-Class will be worked hard keeping pace with my business and family life.
“SE trim is a good choice. The more pricey Sport model looks better, but has a firm ride and flawed steering set-up.”
Owen Mildenhall, Senior road tester
“It’s hard to make a car like this stylish. Its looks are dictated by its function – to be a box for carrying people and luggage.”
hampson10, via www.autoexpress.co.uk