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Mercedes-Benz B-Class review

While the German brand’s A-Class steals the headlines, the B-Class has never looked so good, and arguably, offers much more.

Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Mercedes-Benz B-Class

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class has been in the shadows of the smaller A-Class ever since the latter took on the shape of a more regular hatchback.

It wasn’t always the way, though. The A-Class started life as a compact people carrier before the German automaker took it in another direction to offer competition to the Audi A3 and the BMW 1 Series.

That has left the B-Class to carry on the legacy of the old A-Class – and because of its taller stature, it's arguably the natural successor.

So, if you need something with just a touch more practicality, then the B-Class could be a good fit for you.

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Like the A-Class, the B-Class has also had a mid-life facelift – although sadly, it'll be the last, as Mercedes-Benz is due to discontinue both vehicles in the next couple of years as it focuses more on its premium models.

That is a shame because the B-Class has never been more attractive – with a mesh grille made up of Mercedes stars and a harder-hitting shape, especially in the AMG Line models, which include all trims above entry-level.

Nevertheless, the bottom trim Sport Executive still comes generously equipped. It offers 17-inch alloys, two 10.25-inch screens for the infotainment and instrument display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a DAB radio. Additionally, it features keyless-go, heated front seats, a sports steering wheel, climate control, a wireless charger and a 64-colour ambient lighting system.

The AMG Line Executive grade boasts 18-inch rims, AMG styling tweaks, metal pedals, a sportier steering wheel, and sports seats in half-leather. Meanwhile, the AMG Line Premium adds augmented reality navigation, an upgraded hi-fi system, dual-zone climate control and illuminated door sills.

Finally, the range-topping AMG Line Premium Plus dons 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable ‘memory’ seats, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera and a system that responds to hand gestures.

The B-Class offers just two four-cylinder engines now – the 1.3-litre B200 petrol with 163PS and a seven-speed automatic transmission and the 2.0-litre B200d diesel with 150PS and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

There used to be lower- and higher-powered petrols, a higher-powered diesel and a plug-in hybrid, but they’ve been discontinued.

The B200 petrol has a decent amount of oomph without being overly exciting, getting from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds.

I drove the diesel for this review – and it’s a good job because, on balance, it’s the one to go for.

The oil burner is barely any slower than the petrol and has far superior fuel economy. Plus, it provides greater low-end shove, which helps it to move away from the line with a little bit more urgency.

Nevertheless, both motors are ideally suited to low-speed, around-town driving and motorway cruising. Furthermore, the B-Class is reasonably hushed and more relaxing to drive than its key competitor: the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer.

The suspension setup is softer in the Mercedes-Benz and superior, in terms of comfort, to the BMW. However, that inevitably means that the BMW is more fun to drive.

But the B-Class can hold its own, performing well around corners, helped by a pleasing level of grip and well-weighted steering.

Despite its taller stature compared with the lower A-Class, there isn’t all that much body roll around the bends.

Inside, the cabin is glorious. It is far more opulent than you'd imagine for a car such as the B-Class.

The ambient lighting subtly illuminates the cabin in a satisfying colour (as long as you’re happy with one of the 64 choices). Meanwhile, the aircraft-engine-shaped vents portray a level of hell-raising that belies the B-Class's family-friendly, relaxing persona.

The materials in the cabin feel premium too, complimented by the odd piece of silver and piano black. Then there’s Merc’s improved MBUX infotainment system, which continues to close the gap to BMW's market-leading operating system.

Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the touchpad that’s used to control it and would prefer BMW’s traditional rotary dial. But at least voice control is offered, along with hand-gesture control technology on the flagship model.

There is no shortage of legroom in the front – and headroom in the B-Class isn't an issue at all thanks to its taller stature compared with the A-Class.

The B-Class’s rear isn’t the biggest. But the seats can be reclined, which helps you get comfy and make the most of the space. Therefore, legroom shouldn’t be a problem in the back either.

The middle seat is a bit raised in the rear, but there's still space for three adults, although you might want something bigger if you're going on a long trip with a car full.

The higher rear end of the B-Class means it has a bigger boot than the A-Class, measuring 445 litres, expanding to 1,530 litres if you fold the seats in a versatile 40/20/40 configuration.

You will get 25 litres less if you opt for the petrol models, though.

It should also be noted that the boot floor is flat, which makes things very convenient, too.

The B200d, driven here, achieves 51.4 to 55.4mpg, depending on trim level, and emits 135g/km of CO2. The petrol manages 43.5 to 46.3mpg, releasing 138g/km of CO2.

Mercedes-Benz offers a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and the motor-maker is still producing safe cars. Euro NCAP awarded the B-Class a five-star rating with a 96% rating for adults, 90% for children and 75% for safety assists.

Those assists include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, driver attention monitor, and a 180-degree camera. The top-of-the-range AMG Line Premium Plus goes the extra mile with a surround-view 360-degree camera. In addition, the AMG Line Premium trim and above receive blind spot assist and exit warning assist.

Overall, the B-Class is well-equipped, even at entry-level. It is also comfortable, spacious for its size and practical, with an interior that beats its rivals for ‘wow-factor’ hands down.

It achieves this while still being reasonably good to drive – despite its taller stance – and it’s economical too.

Fast facts – Mercedes-Benz B-Class [B200d, AMG Line Premium trim] as tested:

Max speed: 136mph

0-62 mph: 8.5secs

Fuel economy: 51.4-55.4mpg

Engine layout: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine

Max. power (PS): 150PS

CO2: 137g/km

Price: £40,110

About the Author

Tim Barnes-Cla

Tim Barnes-Clay is a motoring journalist. He test-drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches worldwide.