Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The B-Class arrived here in September 2005, with the mid life facelift arriving exactly three years later. The unique, almost compact People Mover bodystyle has merit – whilst the B-Class is as short as a small hatch, rear seat legroom equals that of a large car and the cargo volume of a compact SUV.

The compact body yet roomy interior is achieved by Mercedes unique ‘sandwich floor’ construction where the forward positioned engine and transmission units are positioned behind the front axle and partially below the passenger cabin. This enables Mercedes to shorten the car’s nose, and lengthen the cabin.

Build quality worthy of the three pointed star on the bonnet and the rear hatch has a premium feeling soft-touch electric opening.
Not so good Mercedes refer to the B-Class as a ‘Compact Sports Tourer’. In truth, it isn’t exactly sporty in looks or engineering, (however it is designed for those who want a roomy vehicle for their family or their sporty, outdoor lifestyle and it ticks the box with cabin room). And on the touring front, it’s less than ideal ride quality makes us question this terminology as well.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good A premium feeling, yet slightly conservative interior. The driver’s instruments are a classy design and the dash is laid out cleanly. The steering wheel adjusts for both rake (up and down) and reach (in and out) and the seats, whilst on the firm side, are comfortable. Visibility all round is excellent, legroom is very generous in both the front and rear and the boot is a large 500 litres. The rear seats also fold forward and down to provide an almost flat carrying space which is more impressive than the longer (and more expensive) Mercedes C-class wagon.
Not so good Whilst the exterior reminds us of a compact People Mover, the interior isn’t as clever as we’d hoped. The sandwich-floor platform results in less headroom that we expected and the rear seat doesn’t recline or slide so you can’t vary the luggage to rear seat space to best suit your needs.
Performance

Performance

Good Four 4 cylinder engines to choose from – one diesel and three petrol. The B180 CDI grade (2.0-litre Turbo Diesel) produces 80kw of power and 250Nm of torque, the B180 (1.7-litre Petrol) 85kW and 155Nm, the B200 (2.0-litre Petrol) 100kW and 185Nm and the B200T (2.0-litre Petrol Turbo) 142kW and 280Nm.

All grades are impressively quiet on the road, though the petrol B180 feels underpowered and must be worked hard so engine noise rises here. The auto variants are actually CVT transmissions which contribute to the excellent fuel economy across the range. The B200 has more than enough ‘oomph’ around town yet also handles highway travels fine. The B200 Turbo is the semi sports variant of the range, is noticeably faster than the other variants and also sounds the best.
Not so good The CVT transmission combined with the rather plain-Jane naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine (B200 grade) = only on the pace performance in this day and age. The B180 CDI grade isn't particularly quick, feels like it lacks refinement and the CVT transmission often emits a slightly annoying drone.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Over smooth surfaces the B-Class rides in a refined manner and stays nice and quiet in the cabin. The handling, whilst never fun, is safe and secure.
Not so good Ride and handling isn’t the B-Class’s strongest point - disappointing when compared to the brands number of impressive handling model ranges (i.e. C-Class, E-Class, S-Class etc.).

Over typically coarse Australian surfaces, the ride is overly firm and the suspension too frequently struggles to smooth out bumps from intruding into the cabin. If this was a tradeoff for brilliant handling maybe we could forgive the B-Class, but unfortunately this isn't the case. It’s simply not a car for driving enthusiasts either; the steering is lacking in feel and doesn't offer enough feedback for one to want to drive the B-Class with enthusiasm. Understeer, where the nose of the car pushes wide and outwards, is the predictable but not exciting result when cornering at speed.

A compact sized vehicle at this price point should ride and handle better.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Every B-Class well and truly ticks the safety box with the following standard features: dual front airbags, side front and rear airbags, side curtain airbags, height adjustable front seatbelts, Anti-Lock Brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control.
Not so good Discount the safety gear and you’ll find that B-Class’s only feature a satisfactory feature list for the asking price. Whilst the option list is very long, it can easily result in a significantly higher asking price. Add too many options and it approaches C-Class wagon territory, a vehicle we rate much higher.