Mercedes B-Class (2011-2018) review - Interior, design and technology
Cabin is lifted more or less straight from the A-Class, which means it’s well made and classy
It’s a Mercedes and feels every inch the proper Swabian bank-vault when you slip behind the wheel. Almost every surface is made of properly high-grade materials (as long as you don’t go digging too far down around the base of the doors or dash) and the switches and buttons are all solid and stolid to touch and use. The single column stalk, which controls the lights and indicators, may prove a challenge at first those unfamiliar with the ways of Mercedes, but actually it’s quite an elegant solution, and leaves space on the other side of the column for the gear-shifter on automatic models, something that really frees up some useful extra space on the centre console. Merc’s push-pull-flick column-stalk cruise control and speed limiter also remains a paragon of simplicity, and is the easiest cruise system to use by far.
There are some flaws though. The instruments tend to look a little cheap on basic models and a little over-done on more specced-up versions (a flaw shared by the A-Class and GLA). If BMW can do simple, classy dials in all of its cars, why not Mercedes? And while the central infotainment screen looks like an iPad and looks as if you could pick it up and carry it away, it’s actually fixed in position. That shouldn’t really be surprising, but it seems somehow disappointing when you realise its glued firmly in place.
You can utterly stuff the car with equipment though, from a panoramic glass sunroof to heated memory seats to keyless-go ignition and entry and ambient lighting. It’s a long options list and you’d better have your wits about you when dealing with it or the price will pretty quickly spiral out of control. This may be a family car, but they’ll have to be well-heeled families if they’re going to afford a well-equipped B-Class.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
All B-Classes come with the 7” central screen and rotary controller, and they’re all pre-installed for a Garmin sat-nav too. Bluetooth connection is standard for both phone and audio functions, and there are two USB sockets and an SD card reader. You can upgrade to an 8” screen with COMAND Online infotainment which includes a wifi hotspot, and there’s the option to include Mercedes Connect Me which allows you to control some of the car’s functions via a smartphone app. Considering the plethora of high-tech options available for the B-Class it seems a bit odd, and a bit stingy, that DAB radio reception is a £430 option.
In this review
- 1Mercedes B-Class (2011-2018) reviewThe Mercedes B-Class is a premium compact MPV that majors in quality and comfort as well as space
- 2Engines, performance and driveIt's an all-turbo line-up for the B-Class, with its range including a 1.6-litre turbo petrol all the way up to a 174bhp 2.1-litre diesel
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsWith family use in mind, the B-Class has been tuned for frugality, no matter which engine you choose
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingCabin is lifted more or less straight from the A-Class, which means it’s well made and classy
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceAs much cabin space as an S-Class? Yes, if you’re measuring vertically
- 6Reliability and SafetyMercedes’ quality has really picked up since the firm’s early-2000s slump, but the model didn't do well in recent Driver Power scores