Currently reading: Frankfurt show - Mercedes B-class
Mercedes’ all-new compact MPV is said to have more rear legroom than an S-class

Mercedes-Benz is seeking to make further inroads into Europe’s burgeoning compact MPV market with the new Mercedes B-class.

The new five-seater is scheduled to hit the UK next April. It will be the first model to sit on the new front-wheel drive platform that is also earmarked for next year’s A-class.

Revealed here at the Frankfurt motor show, the B-class has been thoroughly re-engineered for extra interior space, greater refinement, better economy and improved safety credentials.

At 4359mm long, 1786mm wide and 1557mm tall, the new B-class is 89mm longer, 11mm wider and 48mm lower than 2005’s first-gen model.

The altered dimensions have brought some crucial packaging changes. The front seats are 86mm lower than before and have a more upright position. At 976mm, rear legroom is said to surpass that of the S-class luxury saloon. Boot capacity is put at 666 litres, 121 litres more than before.

Inside, a high-quality dashboard carries design cues from the range-topping SLS. Among the new car’s many options is a free-standing colour monitor for the navigation and entertainment systems, including optional internet access.

The Mercedes MFA platform that underpins the B-class will also be used for the new A-class, CLC, GLC and selected Nissan models as part of the Daimler-Renault-Nissan alliance. The new structure replaces the previous model’s ‘sandwich’ platform, which boasted a flat floor.

A so-called M270 range of petrol engines at launch will be virtually all-new 1.6-litre turbocharged units, one making 121bhp and 147lb ft, and the other 154bhp and 184lb ft, with maximum torque in both available from just 1250rpm. The engines feature Mercedes’ third-gen direct-injection system and stop-start. These engines will soon be fitted to C-class and E-class models too.

The OM651 family of turbodiesels at launch will have a capacity of 1.8 litres. It will initially come in 107bhp/189lb ft and 134bhp/221lb ft states of tune.

Alongside the standard six-speed manual gearbox, a light, compact seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox will be offered. Mercedes claims that this delivers nine per cent better economy than the CVT gearbox it replaces.

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