The Mercedes B-Class is the brand’s first entry into the premium compact car market. Unfortunately this initial release has not been successful in delivering affordability for the first generation’s intended market. Although the B-class was excellently packaged, it has not garnered major sales despite being cheaper than the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series. Even its sibling car, the A-Class was not as well received. But Mercedes has not given up and is releasing a new generation B-Class that is much more stylish, dynamic, and more suited to the C-segment.
The latest B-class generation is a huge improvement from the previous one. It now has a front-drive chassis instead of the expensive sandwich structure. There’s also the conventional monocoque platform that is predicted to be seen in the next five models. This new look isn’t just about form, but also provides more low-level interior space, a reduction in the roof height, and a low hip point for the driver. There’s also a lower centre of gravity that engineers have used to their advantage. The rest of the design is just as impressive. The nose is better defined, the grille larger, and the overall aesthetic look able to reveal a visual width. But what stands out the most is the flank crease—a marked improvement from the previous generation’s flabby flanks.
Given the many changes of the latest B-Class, passengers and drivers can expect to sit lower than they did in the previous generation. The seats are 86mm closer to the road, and the driving position upright compared to the last model and other five-door hatchback vehicles. The space is more than enough, arriving at a middle ground between the MPV and the hatchback. Your knees, heads, and legs will have more than room even in the second row. Rear legroom is also more than the Volkswagen Golf’s by 50mm. Large families or groups will have no problem being seated throughout long rides in this vehicle. Quality is assured through the leather that is surrounded by soft touch interior plastics. Door handles and the apple sized air vents’ aluminum highlights add a nice touch.
The B-Class vehicles come with either a 1.8-litre diesel or 1.6-litre petrol engine. Both are turbocharged and produce a power range within 108 to 154bhp. You can have them delivered with the seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic gearbox or the six-speed manual. The 1.8-litre diesel performs adequately, reaching 60mph in just 9.4 seconds and 100mph after just 28.8 seconds. Fuel economy is another added plus, with one test recording 52.3 mpg.
Unfortunately the 1.8-litre engine is rather noisy with both the B180 CDI and B200 CDI installations. Grumbles are heard on both, indicating this new engine needs future development. The induction system also gives out a whoosh beneath the load and high revs release a metallic thrash from the gear-driven cams. The 1.6-litre engine proved to be better with its 148lb ft torque from 1250 to 4000rpm. The wider torque range allowed for better brisk progress for the B180 and performs even better with the slick six-speed gearbox.
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