Mercedes-Benz B Class 180 SE
The Mercedes-Benz B Class is essentially a family hatchback, but it offers more space than most, a more impressive cabin and a more exclusive image.
Mercedes desribes the car as a ‘compact sports tourer’ and there are petrol and diesel options, with prices starting at £21,825 and the sporty flagship AMG versions topping £30,000.
The B Class is more distinctive in appearance than class rivals.
While perhaps not as svelte as some, it has a lot of road presence thanks to its eye-catching front-end design, dominated by a large and unmistakable three-pointed badge.
Inside the cabin also demands attention, with an elegant design which features a big twin-dial binnacle and aircraft-style circular air-vents. Higher quality soft-touch materials also give the cabin a more elegant and luxurious ambiance.
The featured model is the entry-level diesel, priced at £22,900, and utilising a 1.5 litre engine giving 109 hp. Top speed is 118 mph, the 0-60 mph time 11.6 seconds. Those stats are not outstanding by class standards but the fuel economy figure from this smaller engine is impressive – 70.6 mpg combined.
Entry-level SE cars come with plenty of standard equipment, including 16-inch alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, iPod connectivity, reversing camera and city braking technology. Sport models add extra kit including larger 17-inch alloy wheels and automatic headlights and wipers.
Range-topping AMG Line cars add subtle styling details, more potent looking bumpers and 18-inch wheels among extra features.
Underway, this B Class handles well but you do notice a firmer ride than you would get in most hatchbacks, though the upside of this is that you get tighter body control and reassuring handling.
The power delivery is smooth and while the car is not that quick off the mark, it does have decent mid-range flexibility. It is easy to get a good driving position as there is a lot of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel. Front visibility is good though the rear screen is rather shallow.
The major plus-points of the B Class are its generous space for both front and rear occupants, large boot providing almost 500 litres without folding the seats, its premium-look interior and of course the kudos that always comes with the Mercedes badge.
FOR: Quality interior, good equipment and badge cachet.
AGAINST: Firm ride may not suit everyone.