Are the days of the multipurpose vehicle coming to an end? A few makers think not, despite MPVs being pushed to the sidelines by the ever-growing cohort of crossovers.
Mercedes-Benz is one of the best examples. Its latest, third-generation B-Class is based on the high-selling A-Class hatch and features similar mechanicals, a handful of competent engines and a premium feel inside.
But the draws of the B-Class aren’t speed and power. Instead, this compact MPV is geared towards comfort and excellent accessibility.
We described its drivability as “effortless” in our 2019 road test and found its appeal was bolstered by a host of technology, including driver assistance features previously seen only on the S-Class.
A supple ride, light handling, excellent low-gear urban performance and competitive fuel economy combine to make the B-Class an all-round excellent package that’s easily a match for the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
The more ground-hugging A-Class may be the more convincing steer, but the B-Class makes up for its unengaging drive with an airy and opulent cabin, which our road test proved was more serene than its rivals, recording at a calming 67dBA when driven at 70mph.
Meanwhile, leg room behind a driver of average height measures 740mm – just 10mm shy of that in the E-Class saloon. As for the boot, the B-Class offers 455 litres of space with the seats in their natural position, improving to 705 litres when they’re slid forward 14cm.
All of the B-Class’s engines since launch have been turbocharged and offer sufficient (rather than stimulating) levels of performance. A 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine powers the two petrol models, the 134bhp B180 and the 161bhp B200.