New B-Class joins growing compact Mercedes range
Everybody wants a crossover or SUV but fewer folks seek out an MPV. Will the new B-Class buck the trend?
Today, the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class has little to no competition. In fact, its primary rivals the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Volkswagen Golf SV have exited the SA automotive arena after disappointing stints in the sales charts.
Few manufacturers currently still offer compact MPVs in various sizes and prices but the new B-Class for all its virtues, becomes the only premium offering in the niche.
And it’s not unremarkable. It’s styled to echo the same shark-inspired, sleek shape of the A-Class hatch. Multibeam LED headlamps and daytime running lights are optional equipment and they offer electronically controlled adjustment.
Its sporty rear aesthetic features include a distinctive black bumper bottom section with a diffuser look, and a large roof spoiler.
The previous B-Class cabin was generous on cabin space and offered seating for four or five at a squeeze.
Based on the information broadcast to us via a first-of-its-kind online launch, where we didn’t get to drive the car, the front seats are said to offer a flatter, thus more comfortable, surfacing and can be had with climate control and massage function.
The new B-Class is 1,456mm wide, which is a 33mm improvement over the previous generation car and the list of improvements also counts a lower belt line, and the driver sits 90mm higher than in a current A-Class. With the rear seats folded flat the B-Class yields up to 1,540l of loading space and an electric tailgate that can be opened or closed by means of a button, or optionally with a foot movement.
More enhancements are good all-round views out of the car thanks to optimised roof pillars which obscure less. The vehicle also gets the same fresh and bright interior architecture as in the smaller new A-Class. The MBUX system comprises a freestanding, 26cm touch-control display with ambient lighting with 64 colours and 10 colour schemes. Hello Mercedes Artificial Intelligence is available too.
A Driving Assist package that includes Active Distronic, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Lane Change Assist can be ordered, but Active Brake Assist is standard fitment. The renowned Pre-Safe system that first debuted in S-Class is an optional extra and the vehicle comes fitted with seven airbags with the option of increasing these to nine with rear side bags.
Engines on debut are a new 110kW/320Nm 2.0l turbo diesel for the B200d. It’s claimed to use just 4.5l/100km on a combined urban/freeway cycle, a 0-100km/h sprint in 8.3 seconds and terminal velocity of 219km/h.
The B200 is powered by the same 1.33l petrol turbo as used in the A-Class and it produces 120kW/250Nm for a 0-100km/h time of 8.2 seconds and combined fuel economy of 8.3l/100km.
Both new B-Class derivatives are initially available exclusively with dual-clutch transmission, eight-speed for B200d and seven-speed for B200, and front wheel drive.
Mercedes-Benz says the vehicle is as agile as its predecessor and there is an option to have the car underpinned with a basic suspension or with a four-link rear axle equipped and lowered comfort suspension.
The other suspension option is one with active adaptive damping controlled from the cockpit via a Dynamic Select function. A model with 4Matic all wheel drive will be considered in time.
I can’t make a judgement, having not driven the new B-Class because the company decided we were to experience it only digitally. It wasn’t the best of ideas, but the numbers look good and all the signs are there that the new B-Class retains the strong points of the old car while surpassing it in some areas.
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B200 — R526,900
B200d — R559,100
Prices include a manufacturer warranty of two years/unlimited km and a five-year/unlimited km service plan