Mercedes B-class

Mercedes Benz asserts that its new B-class range is a trend setting model and its meeting the wishes of today’s motorists for a car which offers generous space, exemplary comfort, and excellent practicality. No doubt about it – the model does do all of those things, but it’s a car you have to be inside to fully appreciate, for from the exterior, it looks rather ordinary!

Mercedes B-class – excellent ride comfort

It isn’t actually unique in its sector, for most rivals have some sort of multi-activity vehicle on offer, and most of them will be cheaper than this Mercedes-Benz, but that isn’t really the full story, for few rivals will have the level of safety features as standard on the new B-Class, nor will they have the prestige of the famous three pointed star, and the benefits of longer term residual values being above average too.

So the lesson from all this is to not judge the B-Class just from the outside. Certainly it’s very roomy thanks to the “sandwich” concept of saving space by arranging the engine and transmission partly in front of and partly beneath the passenger cell. This most certainly does deliver the extra interior space and a better degree of practicality. There are also versatile features like height adjustable load compartment floor, a folding and removable rear seat unit, plus an optional removable front passenger seat to make absolutely maximum use of the interior capacity.

There’s a choice of six four-cylinder engines with outputs ranging from 95 to 193 bhp. There’s also a diesel line-up headed by the B200 cdi, which offers 140 bhp, a 0-60 mph time of 9.6 seconds and fuel consumption of up to 61 mpg.

However I opted to test the B-Class in its 170 SE form, with a 1.7 litre petrol engine offering a top speed of 114 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 11.3 seconds, and fuel consumption ranging from 32 to 48 mpg in city/touring use. The official combined average is 41.5 mpg. Price of the test model is £19,195. This model is loaded with standard equipment which includes alloy wheels, front and side airbags, air-conditioning, alarm, immobiliser, anti-lock braking, automatic headlights – in fact Mercedes Benz lists more than ninety items of standard equipment, far too many to list! It includes everything from an acceleration skid control mechanism, to a hook on which you can hang bags.

Under way, I found this B-Class model performed exceptionally well, delivering excellent ride comfort, better steering wheel feel than you have got from some Mercedes in the past, and very low noise levels. Acceleration on this model isn’t tyre burning, for it’s a heavier car than some of its rivals, but it doesn’t actually feel slow, perhaps just measured.

You’re certainly impressed by the amount of interior space for the occupants and for different types of load, I think this is where this model really scores. It really does have a lot of allure to people who do have to move lots of stuff, for business or family, and this versatility is a key sales point.

The B-Class exudes all the quality you’d expect with a Mercedes Benz, and it’s difficult to fault apart from its actual exterior appearance which particularly from the side and rear looks decidedly ordinary.

For: High levels of standard equipment, very high level of safety features, internal practicality, status of the Mercedes Benz badge.

Against: Unadventurous styling.

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