The Mercedes B-Class is hoped to change the manufacturer's successes in the 'premium compact' car sector.

Mercedes' previous efforts have been innovative and interesting, but they've never been as well received as the likes of the Audi Q3 or BMW 1 Series.

Saddled with a mechanical platform that delivered excellent packaging but at a considerable price, the A-Class and B-Class siblings have failed to win major success. But change is coming to Mercedes’ small-car range, and this new Mercedes B-Class is the first taste of it.

Stuttgart’s pseudo-MPV has been given a new platform and format that, stylistically and dynamically, make it a more conventional fit for the so-called ‘premium C-segment’.

It is at the vanguard of a fresh effort by Mercedes to make real headway into a chunk of the luxury car market where it can ill-afford to be outperformed. As such, the impact crater of serious investment is readily apparent.

The B-Class, like the new A-Class, is an all-new car offered with a choice of four-cylinder engines, manual or automatic gearboxes and extensive class-first safety features.

Top 5 Premium hatches

  • BMW i3
    Two versions of the BMW i3 are on sale: a pure electric model or a range-extender variant

    BMW i3

    1
  • Audi A3 Sportback
    All Audi A3s feature multi-link rear suspension, denied to some other MQB-based VW Group cars

    Audi A3 Sportback

    2
  • Volvo V40
    The new Volvo V40 is the Swedish firm's sleek and sporty-looking answer to the VW Golf, A3 Sportback and BMW 1-series

    Volvo V40

    3
  • The second generation 'more grown-up' Mini Clubman

    Mini Clubman

    4
  • BMW 1 Series
    BMW 1 Series gets nip-and-tuck treatment for 2015

    BMW 1 Series

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    26 July 2016
    An expensive but entertaining, intriguing and very usable road-going track car whose rarity may eventually underwrite its high price
  • First Drive
    26 July 2016
    French fashion brand Givenchy has come together with DS for a special edition DS 3. Is it now any closer to the class leaders?
  • 2016 Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    26 July 2016
    Plug-in hybrid Q7 promises economy of 156.9mpg and BIK rates of 10%. It’ll take you a while to recoup the £10k premium over a standard Q7, though
  • MG GS Exclusive DCT
    First Drive
    22 July 2016
    MG's crossover in self-shifting, top-spec form has limited appeal at this price
  • Lexus GS450h F Sport
    First Drive
    22 July 2016
    The Lexus GS450h might offer plenty of pace and reasonable running costs on paper, but diesel alternatives make more sense