“More Sports for the Tourer,” they say.
German carmaker Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the 3rd-generation of its compact MPV, the B-Class. Gaining new technology, a new emphasis on driver appeal, as well as big improvements in the powertrain department, the new B-Class will go head-to-head with the recently-updated BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, as well as stealing sales from A-Class customers who believe that headroom shouldn’t be something one has to negotiate for.
The new B-Class is very-much in keeping with the latest design trends from Mercedes-Benz: There’s a smaller, more focused face than before, which makes the car seem smaller when viewed dead-on. The B-Class is actually larger in every respect, except in height where it’s dropped by a small amount. The design of the new B-Class was meant to maximise aerodynamic efficiency and reduce drag, which is why the new car touts a drag coefficient figure of just 0.24cd, improved from the 0.25cd of the older car.
AMG-Line vehicles get a more aggressive appearance, with sharper wheels, thinner tyres, more angry bumpers on either end and a chrome-studded grille. The headlights are halogen on entry-level cars, but LED and Multibeam LED units are available, with the Multibeam units benefitting from a unique ‘dual-torch’ LED daytime running light signature.
The rear of the new B-Class has seemingly ‘cleaned up’ its act and has been redesigned to emphasise the width of the car, with wider taillights replete with a C-shaped LED signature. While the design has been simplified somewhat, the design appears sculpted and more purposeful than before. It’s an altogether cleaner design.
Step inside and you’ll find familiar elements from throughout the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, but reimagined to cater to this unique application. The headlining feature here is the MBUX interface with its dual-screen setup and AI-powered voice assistant, though the two screens (which start at dual 7-inch displays and can be optioned up to dual 10.25-inch displays in any configuration) are ‘framed’ rather neatly by the dash design that visually separates the driver from the passengers.
You will sit some 90mm higher than you would in an A-Class, but short of that unique dash design, a lot of the smaller fixtures and fittings are very familiar items nicked from the collective Mercedes-Benz parts bin, like the ‘turbine’ air vents and touchpad MBUX controller. The longer wheelbase (2729mm, up 30mm) means there’s a greater sense of space inside, for both people and cargo; On the latter note, the boot space sits at 455L with the rear seats slid as far backwards as they can go, but up to 705L can be freed up if slid forwards. Fold the 40:20:40 rear bench flat, and you’ll get a total of 1540L of cargo room, which is all you’ll really need really.
The B-Class isn’t all new-looks and new-tech, there’s also been a major revolution under the skin. The B-Class makes use of brand-new engines, all of which comply with Euro6d-TEMP regulations that will only come into effect in 2020. These forward-thinking powertrains begin with the B180 and B200 petrol 4-pots, which measure just 1.33-litres in capacity and were developed jointly with French carmaker Renault. With 100kW/200Nm in the B180 and 120kW/250Nm in the B200, these engines send power to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as standard.
The diesel lineup consists of the B180d, B200d, and B220d. The B180d makes use of a 1.5-litre turbocharged 4-banger with 85kW and 260Nm, promising adequate shove. The B200 and B220d make use of a 2.0-litre turbodiesel mill, but it comes fitted with an extended exhaust emissions treatment system and underfloor SCR catalyst that ensures compliance with 2020 emissions regulations. Output is rated at 110kW/320Nm for the B200, while the B220d benefits from 140kW and 400Nm. The B180 uses the same 7-speed DCT as the petrols, while the B200d and B220d use an 8-speed dual-clutch auto instead.
More engines will join the lineup later on, as well as the option of 4Matic all-wheel drive.
The Mercedes-Benz B-Class will go on sale in Europe come early December, with deliveries there slated to begin in February of next year. Mercedes-Benz's local office has said that we can expect to see the versatile people mover here by the middle of 2019. So what'll it be: The A-Class hatch or the B-Class mini-van?