Mercedes B-Class: Second report

26 Sep, 2012 8:45am James Burnay

The A-Class is more stylish, but the B-Class hooks us on its practicality

Ever had the feeling that you’re missing out on something? I’ve spent a couple of months getting to know our Mercedes B-Class, but one question has been bugging me in recent weeks: should I have waited for the company’s new A-Class to arrive?

Don’t get me wrong, the B-Class is great. It’s relatively small, but the interior has lots of functional features, and our model is kitted out with plenty of extras which do all kinds of amazing things. However, looking at pictures of the new A-Class compact hatchback on autoexpress.co.uk and having seen one in the metal at March’s Geneva Motor Show, it’s clear this is a great-looking car that’s going to give its rivals a serious run for their money.

True, it won’t be as functional as the B-Class, but that wouldn’t be a problem for me. I could forgo a bit of versatility if it meant more style. So maybe an A-Class would have been better for me.. or would it? It’s really quite a dilemma.

You see, I have two small children and a wife who likes her creature comforts, so when we travel, we tend to take a lot of stuff with us. A recent weekend visit to friends saw us fill the B-Class to the max with our clobber. I’m always saying that we don’t need our two-year-old’s buggy, but then always regret not putting it in the car if we leave it at home – it’s an argument that I’m sure is common in households up and down the country.

Our B-Class is fitted with Merc’s optional Easy Vario Plus pack. This allows you to make maximum use of boot space by sliding the rear bench back and forth, plus it adds a throughload facility for the centre armrest.

This versatility came in handy when we went to a festival recently. We loaded the car with a big tent, sleeping bags, pillows, air beds, a stove, food and even a trolley to pull the kids around in. And with the seats moved fully forward, the Merc was the ideal festival companion, as it had space for everything. Knee room was squeezed for the kids, but it was much better than buying a roofbox.

This ability to swallow big loads doesn’t come at the expense of manoeuvrability in town. Compact dimensions make it a doddle to park in tight spaces, helped no end by the reversing camera, which relays crystal-clear images to the large seven-inch display screen.

The rest of the interior looks just as fantastic. The metallic, propeller-shaped air vents are reminiscent of those in Mercedes’ flagship SLS AMG supercar, while the soft-touch materials, stitched leather and solid switchgear give a reassuringly expensive feel to the car that I’m yet to tire of.

So while the B-Class doesn’t have the catwalk looks of the A-Class on the outside, it’s more than a match for it from behind the wheel.

As I spend 95 per cent of my time there, and knowing that I’ve got the benefit of all that extra space behind me, maybe I’ve made the right choice after all.

Our view

“Despite functional looks, the B-Class is fun to drive – this is no dull MPV.”
Damion Smy, News reporter

Your view

“17-inch wheels don’t look as good as the 18s, but the ride on sports suspension is too stiff for a family car.”
Mastadriver, via youtube.com/autoexpress

Disqus - noscript

I looked long and hard before I purchased my new replacement B class. I opted for a white 180CDI Sport Auto with comfort suspension and 17" wheels. Gave me Bi - xenon lights, extra chrome,silver facia , black roof lining,privacy glass and artico buff leather uphostery. I considered "active park assist"2 on the SE a non starter
and Sport has rear view camera as standard which is excellent.
Biggest improvements over previous model.Dramatic improvement on turning circle(rarely mentioned in road reports) and much better gearbox than old CVT plaus seating postion. Downside poorer rear visibility

Hard ride, even with 17" wheels, only complaint.

Key specs

  • On fleet since: August 2012
  • Price new: £24,860
  • Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 134bhp
  • CO2/tax: 116g/km/£30
  • Selected options: Reverse camera (£305), panoramic roof (£1,195), DAB radio (£430), sat-nav (£2,100)
  • Insurance group/quote: 21/£408
  • Mileage/mpg: 1,670/44.8mpg
  • Costs: None so far
  • Any problems?: None so far
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