Mercedes B-Class vs rivals

All-new Mercedes B-Class is targeting the best compact MPVs. We test it against two top buys

Mercedes B-Class vs rivals
For the fashionable family about town, there’s no better transport than a compact MPV. With their mix of spacious cabins and neat exterior dimensions, these cars are as comfortable on the school run as they are on the motorway or parked in front of the office.
The latest arrival is the all-new Mercedes B-Class. Its predecessor struggled to make an impact with buyers, but the newcomer is set to change that. It features bold styling, a range of efficient new engines and an even roomier cabin than before, so it should be fun to drive and cheap to run. The entry-level model starts at £21,290, but we’re testing the range-topping £24,710 B200 CDI Sport version here.
Up against the Merc are two of the class leaders. The Ford C-MAX mixes driving fun with sharp looks and a spacious interior, while the sensible VW Golf Plus delivers dependability, versatility and a badge that almost rivals the Mercedes for car park prestige.

Verdict

So, has the second-generation Mercedes B-Class done enough to shake off the poor reputation of its predecessor? Well, it’s certainly more stylish than before, plus it’s very well equipped and cheap to run.

Yet despite these positives, the B-Class finishes last in this test. Even taking its premium image into account, the Mercedes is expensive. And in Sport spec, the steering is flawed and the ride is too firm. But it’s a lack of versatility that hurts the B-Class’ chances the most – the practical Easy-Vario-Plus rear bench should really be included as standard.

That leaves the Volkswagen and Ford fighting it out for victory. The Golf Plus is roomy, very practical and good to drive, but is let down by its dull styling and lack of standard equipment.

So the Ford C-MAX takes the spoils. With its spacious, well thought-out cabin, sparkling chassis and distinctive design, it’s all the family car you’ll ever need. However, as with the Golf Plus, we would recommend going for the cheaper and greener manual version.

Winner Ford C-Max ★★★★

Here’s proof that a practical family car doesn’t have to be dull. While it’s not exactly fast, the C-Max is boldly styled and its versatile cabin shows real attention to detail. The Ford is also very enjoyable to drive, yet it has the smoothest ride here, coupled with impressive refinement. A great-value price is the final ace up its sleeve.

2nd VW Golf Plus ★★★★

Look past the Volkswagen’s humdrum styling and you’ll discover an extremely practical and capable family runaround. The cabin is robust and well thought-out, while the sliding rear bench adds versatility. Punchy performance and low running costs are further plus points.

3rd Mercedes B-Class ★★★

If you want a compact MPV with an image that’s a cut above the mainstream, look no further than the B-Class. Strong resale values should help keep the lid on depreciation, but the driving experience is flawed in Sport trim. The cheaper SE will be a better bet for most.

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