THE MERCEDES-BENZ B220 is a hatchback, though to use that term seems a disservice to a car which immediately establishes itself as so much more.
Priced from £22,895, B-Class models offer various turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel engines in the range, all very flexible with their power delivery. The SE entry level model is well kitted with alloy wheels, Bluetooth, tablet-style central display and a wealth of safety features which include park assist, collision prevention assist and even a device which warns you if you are not paying enough attention to the driving!
My test model was a flagship version, the 4Matic Sport, with a 2.0 litre 184 hp petrol engine mated to a 7-speed auto gearbox, and with 4WD. Priced at £28,140, it was fitted with options which included a substantially upgraded communications and entertainment system with surround sound, which took the price to £32,640.
The B Class looks more imposing than other hatchback rivals in the sector with the large front grill and dominant three-pointed star leaving no doubt you are in something rather special. That feeling continues when you get inside, as the amount of space is executive-saloon in proportion, and the interior styling hallmarks its premium credentials with quality soft-touch trim materials and nice design touches such as the aero-style vents in the dashboard.
There is plenty of head and leg room for all occupants and the boot, at 488 litres is bigger than most rivals, and can be boosted to 1,547 litres – estate-car size – with the seats folded, though there is a two-inch lip which makes it awkward to sliding in bulky items.
On the road, this B-Class is exceptionally good, with smooth responsive power delivery. The steering feedback is excellent and with the lowered sports suspension on the test model providing enhanced grip and stability, you feel totally in control. Ride comfort is fine, even though firmer on this particular model.
The 0-60 mph time is just 7.5 seconds, quick for a car of this size and weight, and the top speed is 140 mph. Given that stirring performance from the turbo-petrol engine, fuel economy of 42.2 mpg is very acceptable.
Safety features are always extensive on Mercedes Benz models – it invented many of them – and on the B Class includes seven standard airbags, plus a raft of stability, collision and braking devices to help protect the occupants. These include a driver drowsiness detector!
The B Class isn’t the cheapest hatchback in the class, and for some, best value will be down near the entry level given how well-equipped these models are. Yet for those with a bigger budget, who want luxury features and all the latest technology, the test model will provide all that they require.
FOR: Build quality, equipment levels – and the cachet of the famous three-pointed star.
AGAINST: Awkward load lip when rear seats folded.