Now in its second generation, the Mercedes-Benz B-Class has proved a popular seller. wheelworldreviews Editor DAVID HOOPER drives one of the latest models.
THIS is the second generation of the B-Class from Mercedes-Benz, but before I could review it, I had to try and work out what sort of car it’s supposed to be.
From a distance it looks very similar to the A-Class, but stand the two side-by-side and the B-Class is substantially larger in every dimension.
Merecedes-Benz themselves seem to have hedged their bets as well, claiming it boasts the dynamic design of a sporty saloon, the exterior dimensions of a compact car, the spaciousness of an estate, the versatility of a mini MPV and the trademark safety of a Mercedes-Benz. I have also seen it described as a people carrier, so it seems it is all things to all people – a real car for all seasons.
Which is just as well, as my few days with the B-Class coincided with arrival of generous helpings of snow, as you will see from the pictures. While it looked very pretty, it didn’t really help in the road-testing department, but more of that later.
Looking on the bright side though, at least the weather matched the car’s ice blue paintwork, a pretty colour (when clean) which suited the B-Class very well.
Regardless of what the marketing hype would have us believe, it’s proved reasonably popular with buyers who have snapped up over 15,000 of them in Britain since it first went on sale in mid-2005.
What you actually get when you buy a B-Class is a practical family car with the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star on the grille, and in the centre of your steering wheel. For the more brand conscious among us, those badges, and a starting price for the range of £18,424 may be enough to sway a buying decision in favour of the B-Class.
This latest model has benefited from some styling tweaks which have seen it endowed with a new front bumper and redesigned grille with a larger and more prominent badge.
There is seating for five people inside, and a substantial boot at the back, which can be greatly enlarged by folding down the rear seats which split in a 60/40 configuration.
Thanks to the car’s semi-tall architecture, the seating position feels a bit unusual at first, but it is comfortable enough, and people of a certain age will appreciate the ease with which you can get in and out of the car. It’s raised seat height means you can just virtually step into the B-Class.
There is a choice of petrol or diesel engines spread across two trim levels, SE and Sport, with some models coming with Mercedes’ BlueEfficiency economy as standard.
Mercedes says its research shows this car spends much of its time in city traffic, so all the current engines offer improved fuel consumption and lower C02 emissions than those in the original B-Class. The BlueEfficiency badge brings the addition of start/stop technology on some versions helping to achieve maximum economy, and a gear change indicator with an arrow on the dashboard advises the driver when to change up or down the gears to maximise economy.
Safety equipment is plentiful, as you might expect. ABS, Brake Assist and ESP are standard fit across the range, and to help avoid rear end collisions, the brake lights will flash if the driver performs an emergency stop. It’s a feature that is becoming widely used on several makes of car now, and one which has proved highly effective in preventing accidents.
Another system worth paying the extra £538 for is the active park assist. Due to the shape of the car, its perimeters are quite difficult to judge from the driver’s seat, but with this system, a series of LEDs, which turn red and beep as you are about to touch an object, are a big help in a busy car park during the January sales, and for that price, they are fitted front and rear.
The B-Class is a comfortable car to drive and an easy one to live with, and thanks to its surprisingly large boot, practical too.
A car for all seasons then, and with sensible pricing, driving a Mercedes-Benz is more affordable than many might appreciate.
Perhaps that’s why it has proved so popular with those in the know.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Mercedes-Benz B180 BlueEfficiency Sport.
THE RANGE: From B 160 BlueEFFICIENCY SE 5dr (£18,424) to B 200 CDI Sport 5dr (£22,070).
ENGINE: 1699cc, 116bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 5-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 153g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 114mph. 0-62mph in 11.3 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 35.3mpg.
Fuel tank: 54 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 8.
WARRANTY: 3 years/Unlimited miles.